Saturday, September 20, 2014

Thomas Jefferson Calls for Submarines

by Bill Doughty

The third president of the United States was the first to expand into the American West, combat religious fundamentalism and terrorists abroad, and think about the future of naval warfare: using submarines and surface ships to provide defense of the States and forward-deploying forces for maritime security. He foresaw peace through global commerce between nations – globalization.

In "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power" Jon Meacham explores the complicated way Jefferson combined pure reason with muddy politics as Governor of Virginia, congressman, Secretary of State, President, diplomat in France, and as statesman and philosopher, always trying to achieve "the Founders' dream of a nation beyond partisanship."

Battle of Tripoli Harbor, Aug. 3, 1804
Facing bitter opposition, Jefferson called for naval power against a Muslim caliphate in the Barbary states (Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli). Barbary pirates had harassed and kidnapped merchants and captured an American ship. Rather than paying ransom, Jefferson, in a letter to James Monroe, suggested a reasoned approach with hard consequences.

Jefferson wrote, "Would it not be better to offer them an equal treaty? If they refuse, why not go to war with them? ... We ought to begin a naval power, if we mean to carry on our own commerce. Can we begin it on a more honorable occasion or with a weaker foe?"

According to Meacham:
"On Saturday, August 1, 1801, Andrew Sterett of the Enterprize (Enterprise), who was serving under [Commodore Richard] Dale, defeated the Tripolitan vessel Tripoli near Malta. 'Too long ... have those barbarians been suffered to trample on the sacred faith of treaties, on the rights and laws of human nature,' Jefferson told Sterett. 'You have shown your countrymen that that enemy cannot meet bravery and skill united.'"
Meacham judges Jefferson as "more of a chess player than a traditional warrior."

"The Art of Power" is carefully researched and backed up with good source material on both sides of the Atlantic, including unpublished papers. Unfortunately there's not much more discussion about Jefferson's complicated views about developing a Navy. Meacham piques our interest in other writings by Jefferson. 

In a letter published in a collection by the Library of America, "Writings: Autobiography, Notes on the State of Virginia, Public and Private Papers, Addresses, Letters," and written in 1807, President Jefferson communicates his views about naval strategy with Robert Fulton, inventor of the steam engine. Jefferson discusses use and limitations of torpedoes (mines), which would be used extensively a few years later in the War of 1812, and half a century later in the Civil War by Cmdre. David Farragut in the Battle of New Orleans.

In his letter to Fulton, Jefferson calls for more commitment to developing and employing submarines. And he floats the idea of creating a corps of submariners.
"I consider your torpedoes as very valuable means of defence of harbors, & have no doubt that we should adopt them to a considerable degree. Not that I go the whole length (as I believe you do) of considering them as solely to be relied on ... But I have ever looked to the submarine boat as most to be depended on for attaching them [torpedoes], & tho' I see no mention of it in your letter, or your publications, I am in hopes it is not abandoned as impracticable. I should wish to see a corps of young men trained to this service. It would belong to the engineers if at land, but being nautical, I suppose we must have a corps of naval engineers, to practise & use them. I do not know whether we have authority to put any part of our existing naval establishment in a course of training, but it shall be the subject of a consultation with the Secretary of the Navy. Genl Dearborne has informed you of the urgency of our want of you at N Orleans for the locks there. I salute you with great respect & esteem."
Jefferson's views of the Navy seem to have evolved over time. Earlier writings in the 1780s questioned the need for a naval force to compete with European powers. (Eventually, though, especially in response to the Barbary threats, Jefferson understood the need for a strong means to back up peaceful intentions.)

In Query XXII of his "Notes on the State of Virginia" written in 1781-1782, Jefferson offers predictions that have been realized centuries later after wars against Britain, Japan and Germany – cooperative interaction with other nations:
"It should be our endeavour to cultivate the peace and friendship of every nation, even of that which has injured us most, when we shall have carried our point against her. Our interest will be to throw open the doors of commerce, and to knock off all its shackles, giving perfect freedom to all persons for the vent of whatever they may chuse to bring into our ports, and asking the same in theirs."
Jefferson's own words, found in separate collections, help expand revelations in Meacham's biography, which in words and impressive artwork shows many of the key people in Jefferson's life.

Jon Meacham
Meacham's work is personalizing. It focuses on many of Jefferson's relationships, including  with John Adams, Aaron Burr, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Sarah "Sally" Hemings, Thomas Paine and Patsy Jefferson Randolph. Meacham writes about Jefferson's friendships, loves and rivalries. Unlike other Founders, Thomas Jefferson did not succumb to bitterness. He took on a recalcitrant Congress and achieved his strategic goals.

The dustcover of Meacham's book proclaims;
"The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanity – and the genius of the new nation – lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris; from politics in Philadelphia and New York to the capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age."
Jefferson's passion and courage gave us the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Some could say Jefferson's foresight and commitment to progressive development gave us the birth of maritime strategy. And one could even say his expansion of the American West – eventually through Colorado to Washington State – led directly to this weekend's NFL rematch between Peyton Manning of Denver and Russell Wilson of Seattle.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A 'Fatwa' Against Islamic Fundamentalism

Review by Bill Doughty

As the United States and other nations begin targeting the Islamic State (ISIL/ISIS), why aren't others in the region – other Muslims – up in arms against religious fundamentalism and extremism?

A refreshing perspective by Karima Bennoune shows us many people of Muslim heritage are, in fact, renouncing intolerance and terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam. Many yearn for freedom, love and peace over tyranny, hate and civil war. Bennoune, a professor of international law at the University of California-Davis School of Law, who is of Algerian descent, makes the case in 2013's "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism."
Woman in a camp for displaced Iraqis who fled militants, Aug. 6, 2014. AP photo, State Dept. blog.

She describes in heart-rending detail the fear and courage of people in countries and regions as diverse as Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Tunisia, Somalia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Chechnya and Dagestan. She describes murder, maiming, stoning, rape and imprisonment in the name of the Qur'an and the fundamentalists' version of their religion. "Islam and Islamism are not the same thing ... The vast majority of Muslims are not fundamentalists, though of course too many are."

Much of Bennoune's perspective, understandably, comes from Algeria, where she grew up before emigrating to the United States. She balances her views with equal condemnation for those on the far left and extremists on the far right who fail to properly deal with the threats to equality, human rights and freedom. But most of this book shows the backlash against fundamentalists' interpretation of Sharia (so-called "God's law") and the danger of religion entering secular society and laws. About Muslim fundamentalism, Bennoune writes:
"At its very core it is a basic question of human rights for hundreds of millions of people who live in Muslim majority countries and populations around the world. In Algiers, Cherifa Bouatta tells me that Muslim fundamentalism 'is a deadly ideology which stands against choice, hope, change and humanity. It represents the breaking of our countries.' Franco-Algerian community organizer Mimouma Hadjam wants to remind Westerners, 'Islamism is a danger for the Muslim population. It is a danger for us.'"
Bennoune describes Islamist rejection of art, science, education and freedom of choice under a "cloak of divine legitimacy" by groups including the transnational Muslim Brotherhood, the ex-Islamic Salvation Front, Salafi groups, Jamaat-e-Islami, Taliban, Al Qaeda and Wahhabism, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram and Ennahda Party, among others.

A visit to Kabul's Ghazi Stadium with the author's guide Alem is recounted. It's a place for sports but was recently used for torture and amputation in the name of Sharia law:
"In addition to amputation of hands and feet while the Qur'an was recited nearby, people were lashed here for adultery in Taliban times, and women were stoned to death. Alem says the Talibs would go out into the city with loudspeakers and announce the punishments. People who had no TV, no radio, no entertainment, would come and watch. There are many different Muslim laws applied in many different ways, but from now on, whenever people talk about the 'application of the Sharia,' it is hard for me not to think about this place."
"Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here" was published before the rise of would-be caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State (IS/ISIL/ISIS), which claimed responsibility for the beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, yet Bennoune remembers Danny Pearl and devotes a chapter, "To Speak Out and Die," to the murder of international journalists by Islamists. Just yesterday, IS issued a video of the beheading of British aid worker David Haines. The beginnings of the IS group can be traced back to 1999; it's the same group under a different name responsible for the beheading of Nick Berg in 2004.

"Your Fatwa" includes the poignant story of the throat-cutting murder of 22-year-old Algerian law student Amel Zenoune-Zouani by Islamist militants and the murder attempt against then 15-year-old student Malala Yousafzai by Pakistani Taliban. (Yousafzai's autobiography, "I am Malala," – also on CD with narration by Archie Panjabi – is another recommended read that shows how one can respect moderate Islam and condemn the violence of the fundamentalists. Despite being shot in the head and experiencing ongoing death threats, Malala continues her crusade for education, equality and tolerance.) 
Karima Bennoune
Bennoune writes: "Women's rights must be the nonnegotiable centerpiece of the struggle against fundamentalism." It's an idea shared by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, also mentioned in "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here."

This weekend Secretary of State John Kerry said in Egypt that radical jihadists claim to be fighting on behalf of Islam but their actions are counter to the religion's teachings. Regarding the Islamic State, Kerry said, "its message of hate is rejected" by the majority of Muslims around the world.

The aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) is now operating in the 5th Fleet Area of Operations and launching air sorties against IS/ISIL.

Bennoune shows how that rejection of hate is personalized in her interviews with parents who have lost children, individuals who have lost homes and families, and women who have lost the freedom of expression and choice. Despite setbacks of fundamentalist election victories after the "great spring of 2011," the author finds hope:
"... It is no win for democracy when its processes are used to defeat its values. The actual political and social power of fundamentalists across the region means that the waters of social change have to be navigated with great care. This, however, is no excuse for a failure to respond to the entirely legitimate demands for democratization and justice, which remain imperative. Instead, those on the ground who champion human rights and substantive equality must fight on all fronts. There is still hope for the democratic struggle in Arab and Muslim majority countries unleashed in the spring of 2011, but the struggle against fundamentalism must be at its core."
Bennoune concludes with a call to combat the ideology of fundamentalism. She wants to replace the Islamist war on education with a war on their ignorance and superstition. Education will bring democracy and equality. Her book is deeply personal – from her own and her father's perspective. She hears the cough of an imam as "a very human reminder of the temporal" and with humility she applies that to her own search for the truth. And she presents poetic reflection of visiting cemeteries, literally and figuratively.

A "found (unintentional) haiku" in Bennoune's introduction to her book calls for tolerance even within the paradigm of Islam:
As the Qur'an says, 
"Unto you your religion 
and unto me mine"
I first heard Karima Bennoune speak about her book in a TED Talks podcast, which at the time I'm posting this just hit one million views. 

Her perspective is important to anyone in or out of the military who may wonder if there is international support for another mission to deal with rising Islamic fundamentalism that presents a real threat to freedom-loving people and freethinkers everywhere.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

'Sisters' Debunks 'Weaker Sex' Myth

Review by Bill Doughty
The fight for women's equality in the United States began before the Civil War. Jean H. Baker's "Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists" pumps blood into the story of five key women who fought for women, especially after the war  leading eventually to the ratification of the 19th Amendment August 26, 1920. Baker takes us into the streets, the conference halls, minds and occasionally even the bedrooms of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard, Lucy Stone and Alice Paul.

Baker achieves her goal. She virtually brings to life the women who are otherwise "homogenized into stiff icons of feminized democracy." And, through biographies of each leader, Baker also brings to life the history of the pursuit of equal rights for women in the United States. Why these five activists and why so private?
"There were other prominent suffrage leaders, but I have chosen these five because I believe them to be indispensable. Not only did they found and lead the national organizations that served as surrogate political parties for women before 1920, they also provided a network of leadership that shaped the goals of this first wave of American feminists. The excision of these women's private lives has often made it seem that the politics of organized suffrage summarized the entirety of their existence. For them the political seemingly became the personal."
One or more of the five women introduced by Baker experience imprisonment, are pelted with eggs, have heartbreak in and out of marriage, experience postpartum depression, live with an eating disorder, fight for birth control, and are rejected by clerics and other male-dominated institutions. Yet they stand up, speak out and in later years go out to demonstrate in the face of hate and prejudice.

Often single-mindedly and always with strong commitment, these feminists struggled for a woman's right to vote, which they saw as a universal right guaranteed by the founders in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Only the ability to vote, they knew, would guarantee "consent of the governed."
Susan B. Anthony said, "Woman needs the ballot as a protection to herself; it is a means and not an end. Until she gets it she will not be satisfied, nor shall she be protected." Women should have a right to choose their destiny.

Baker quotes Elizabeth Cady Stanton: "In a government that denied women the right to vote, 'All laws which place [woman] in a position inferior to that of man are contrary to that great precept of nature and therefore no force or authority.'"

Liberty as a natural right for all humans propelled the passage of the 15th Amendment, giving blacks the right to vote – but only black males. True equality would take another hundred years with the civil rights movement that culminated under Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s.

Several of the women in "Sisters" were contemporaries of, or knew, Frederick Douglass. Each of the women were either abolitionists or supporters of greater rights for former slaves. In the case of Willard, a faith-based religious crusade against alcohol became as important as the fight for universal suffrage. Yet she had an ambivalence toward the rights of African Americans.
"In the 1890s Willard's limited commitment to racial equality foundered on the lynching issue. She opposed the terrorist, extrajudicial process of lynching black men in vigilante actions in the South. On the other hand she refused to join the campaign of Ida Wells, a young black journalist and activist who worked to arouse sympathy for black victims by making the case that they were innocent ... Willard's aspirations never had room for the divisive issue of race, and for that she provoked the anger of not just Wells but [also] reformers like Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Julia Ward Howe."
One hundred years ago in August 1914 President Woodrow Wilson preached for more democracy across the world as the First World War began. But he initially aborted any attempts at equality for women at home. Alice Paul confronted him through civil disobedience, political pressure and logical reasoning and forced him to support women's right to vote.
"Indubitably Alice Paul was the most implacable, the most single-minded, the most original, the most self-sacrificing, and the most overlooked of twentieth century feminists. Implementing the doctrine of the British militants – 'Deeds, not Words' – she became the necessary culmination of what had begun at Seneca Falls in 1848. The day after her parade, while Washington celebrated the ritual activities of a presidential inauguration (though Wilson had declined an inaugural ball, believing it simply an occasion to show off 'feminine clothes'), the indefatigable Alice Paul and a few of her lieutenants were already at work organizing the first suffrage delegations to the White House, 'deputations' that would plague the president."
Alice Paul
Anthony, Stanton, Stone and Willard died years before women received the right to vote, but Alice Paul was only 35 in 1920. She had taken the struggle directly to President Wilson and won. According to Baker, "By his early opposition, later avoidance, and tepid final support on the grounds of expediency, Wilson destroyed any claim on posterity that he had expanded democracy at home or abroad."

Paul dedicated the rest of her life to promoting the Equal Rights Amendment. She died in 1977.

Read this book to discover some of the personal and private details of the suffragist's lives – as children, young women and iconic leaders in old age. Their story is part of an extended struggle from the American Revolution, to the emancipation of slaves, and through the modern civil rights movement, setting the stage for future successes of women such as Althea Gibson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, Sandra Day O'Connor, Margaret Sanger, Rear Adm. "Amazing" Grace Hopper, Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, and Adm. Michelle Howard.

The Department of Defense announced that August 26, 2014 is to be commemorated as Women's Equality Day with the theme, "Celebrating Women's Right to Vote." 

Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony statue by Pepsy Kettvong, Rochester, New York.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wizard of Oz & Navy Core Values

by Bill Doughty

"The Wonderful World of Oz," written by L. Frank Baum of Coronado, Calif. and first published in 1900, was popular with children in its time but is no match for the movie, first released in 1939. The movie celebrates its 75th anniversary this weekend.

Both the movie and the film inspired a number of theories about its symbolism and allegory.

Is Baum's story about the gold standard, geo-politics, religion, industrialization and/or populism? Or is it just a good story, as Baum claimed, written solely to bring happiness to children as a "modernized fairy tale"?

In 2003 then Rear Adm. Andrew M. Singer* gave a Navy Birthday speech in Sierra Vista, Arizona. His remarks formed the themes in the movie around Navy and Marine Corps core values.
Andrew M. Singer, Intelligence Chair, Naval Postgraduate School
Singer said the movie has a message that exemplifies honor, courage and commitment.

The scarecrow, tin man and lion searched for what they already had: a brain, a heart, the nerve. 

Realization of our innate abilities comes with the journey. With that knowledge comes the ability to make good choices. Singer said, "If you think to do the right thing, you'll do the right thing."

In the movie, the diverse individuals form a team and complete their journey thanks to Dorothy's vision and leadership. [Baum was an advocate for women's rights, marrying the daughter of a suffragist. Incidentally, Baum died in 1919, just one year before the 19th Amendment was ratified giving women throughout the United States the right to vote.]
Singer links the key phrase in the movie, "there's no place like home," with the military's mission to protect the country.

At Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Marines learn about core values with a special emphasis on the courage to uphold high standards, make good decisions and seek to continuously self improve.

According to senior drill instructor Sgt. Joshua P. McGeewhat's important is having self-discipline to do the right thing. “It’s like the cowardly lion in the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ He wanted to be courageous. He wanted to change,” said McGee. “A positive change in our lives takes moral courage.”

McGee said courage is “the moral, mental and physical strength to do what is right; to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure.”

Among the metaphors and lessons waiting to be discovered or repurposed in Oz are many used by the business community, even internationally.

Brandstorm consultant John Lloyd of South Africa writes, in his essay "Leadership Lessons from the Wizard of Oz," about courage in the face of fear:

"Fear immobilizes us. It’s an obstacle to success and makes us followers instead of leaders. It diminishes our initiative, enthusiasm and desire to succeed. At the end of the movie when the Lion is awarded his medal for courage, he still felt the fear but understood that even courageous people feel fear. He thought that he was courageous and consequently he became so. His medal became an outward validation for an inner change."

Lloyd quotes Winston Churchill: "Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend." And, he reminds us of Franklin D. Roosevelt's post-Great Depression statement: ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

"So the three distinct qualities you need to be an effective leader are a never-ending commitment to improving your knowledge, heartfelt compassion for others and the courage to face your every fear," Lloyd writes.

In the same year L. Frank Baum published "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (1900), he produced a pair of picture books illustrated by Harry (Otis) Kennedy – "The Navy Alphabet" and "The Army Alphabet."

For more about Baum and the alphabet books, read Bill Cambell's insightful blog, The Oz Enthusiast.

Of interest in "The Navy Alphabet" is the illustration and verse showing the Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines under O for Ocean.

"The Wizard of Oz" is a bridge from Grimm and Andersen to more modern fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien ("Lord of the Rings") and George R.R. Martin ("Game of Thrones").

One moral of the Oz story is repeated in some of the best of the genre: True power rests within the individual – whether they know it or not – and sometimes those in power rely on ignorance and fear to deceive people. There is always a need for ethical behavior exemplified in the core values of honor, courage and commitment.

So, who has the courage for "emancipation leadership"? (see the next Navy Reads post, "Turn the Ship Around!")

(*Rear Adm. Singer began his career aboard USS Midway (CV 41) in Yokosuka, Japan in 1978, where he became a surface warfare officer. Later he became a naval cryptologist, with assignments on the East Coast and in the Pacific. He completed his career in uniform after serving as Director for Intelligence at U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii. He now serves as Intelligence Chair at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

'Turn the Ship Around!' Emancipation Leadership

Review by Bill Doughty

Here's a paradox:

More leadership creates more unthinking followership; less top-down leadership creates more engaged leadership – at every level of an organization.
How can a Navy leader build trust, ownership, competency and passion in their workforce?  "Tap into the existing energy of the command, discover the strengths, and remove barriers to further progress." That's the advice of L. David Marquet, Captain, U.S. Navy (retired), author of "Turn the Ship Around: A true story of Turning Followers into Leaders," published in 2012 and added this year to the CNO's Professional Reading Program as an essential Navy read under "Be Ready."

Marquet takes us aboard the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) and shows us how his leader-leader philosophy succeeded over a traditional top-down, do-as-I-say focus on procedures rather than objectives and goals.

Among his revelations, in no particular order:

  • Learning is better than training.
  • "Control without competence is chaos."
  • To change the organization, "change the genetic code."
  • Celebrate the workforce's or individual's success immediately.
  • Communicate goals and intents all the time at every level.
  • Find the courage to change and tolerate (and learn from) failure.
  • "Encourage dissent and a questioning attitude over blind obedience."
  • "Take deliberate action" – no autopilot nonthinking.
  • Celebrate the organization's legacy and traditions.
  • Eliminate top-down monitoring systems and administrative disincentives.
  • Don't brief; instead, certify.
  • "Giving control is a deliberate act of courage."
As Captain of Santa Fe, Marquet discovered that the old top-down leader-follower model was a disincentive to ownership and eroded the authority of the chief petty officers, who are generally recognized as the backbone of the Navy's chain of command, especially at the deckplates.

With less authority and responsibility, chiefs lost "eyeball accountability." But, with Marquet, "Being the chief would no longer mean a position of privilege but a position of accountability, responsibility and work." His pillars are control (give control), competence, clarity and courage.

Under the new paradigm, leaders at all levels moved from a focus of avoiding errors to achieving goals and objectives in order to become "truly exceptional."
In 2000, Stephen Covey rode USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) with then CDR Marquet.
Marquet was inspired by Stephen R. Covey ("7 Habits for Highly Effective People"), who stressed, "begin with the end in mind." Covey writes in the introduction: "My definition of leadership is this: Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves. I don't know of a finer model of this kind of empowering leadership than Captain Marquet's."

In fact, Marquet moves beyond empowerment, preferring the term "emancipation," allowing the natural tendency of the individual to have freedom and control over their destiny and to be part of the greater whole.

Another author who influenced his thinking is G. Edwards Deming ("Out of Crisis"), father of Total Quality Management and Total Quality Leadership. Deming believed that people have an inherent desire to do a good job, but processes often get in their way. To improve performance, improve the processes. Marquet writes:
"This had a big effect on me. It showed me how efforts to improve the process made the organization more efficient, while efforts to monitor the process made the organization less efficient. What I hadn't understood was the pernicious effect that 'we are checking up on you' has on initiative, vitality and passion until I saw it on Santa Fe."
Marquet asks, "How many top-down management systems are in play within your organization. How can you eliminate them?"

Santa Fe's creed, included in this book, is a work of art. The ship's guiding principles under Marquet are clear and concise. This leadership bible includes lists of before and after – reenlistments, retention, advancement, qualifications and certifications – that demonstrate the success of the leader-leader philosophy. His "don't do this, do this" list is a great snapshot reminder that I intend to keep at my desk.

"Turn the Ship Around!" begins, "Our greatest struggle is within ourselves. Whatever sense we have of thinking we know something is a barrier to continued learning."

Reading, thinking, learning and listening can help us achieve what Marquet discovered: "A truly better way for humans to interact."

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Is Singapore the Israel in 'Asia's Cauldron'?

Review by Bill Doughty
In "Asia's Cauldron" Robert D. Kaplan combines insights from his "Monsoon" and "The Revenge of Geography" and shows where the future is unfolding, per his subtitle: "The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific."

Kaplan gives us a priceless short history of the region. He describes the landscape and maritime environment in the context of global power politics as he draws parallels – for example, between Singapore, a key ally in the region, and Israel; both nations were created in the past century. In the case of the more ethnically diverse Singapore:
"It was thrown out of a Malay-dominated federation in the 1960s because Singapore's leaders insisted on a multiethnic meritocracy. Thus, Singapore found itself alone amid a newly constituted and hostile Malaysia, which controlled Singapore's access to freshwater, while a pro-communist Indonesian demographic behemoth was breathing down Singapore's neck. Singapore was as small and alone in its region as Israel was in its; it was no irony that Israel played a large role in training Singapore's armed forces."
"While Singapore has only 3.3 million citizens, it boasts an air force the same size as Australia's, whose population is 23 million. 'Like the Israelis, the Singaporeans believe in air superiority. They pay their pilots well. they have AWACS,' a defense official from a neighboring country told me. In addition to its one hundred or so fighter jets, Singapore has twenty missile-carrying ships, six frigates, and, notably, six submarines – an extraordinary number given that far more populous countries in the region like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam have fewer."
PEARL HARBOR (June 24, 2014) Republic of Singapore frigate RSS Intrepid (F 69) moors to the pier at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 exercise, which concluded Aug. 1. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tiarra Fulgham/Unreleased)

Other countries get the Israel comparison treatment, too, including Taiwan, which Kaplan says has survived because of "feverish, innovative diplomacy":  "More isolated than the Israelis, the Taiwanese were less bitter about it. No one in Taipei had chips on their shoulder. It was a place you instantly liked."

Kaplan finds other parallels with people and geography. The Caribbean of previous centuries is compared with the South China Sea, and "the South China Sea is the Mitteleuropa (German for Central Europe) of the twenty-first century." Kaplan describes the years leading up to World War I when Kaiser Wilhelm II built up his navy as President Theodore Roosevelt was anxious to prevent "a strong Germany from replacing a weak Spain" near United States shores. Strategic thinking and naval advances led to the creation of the Panama Canal, which opened one hundred years ago this month, Aug. 15, 2014.

Mark Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." Parallels and predictions are fraught with imperfections as history rhymes rather than repeats. Sometimes rhymes are beautiful sonnets, other times limericks.

"Future predictions are obviously dangerous because of the flaw of linear thinking: current trends rarely continue as they have in the past," Kaplan acknowledges.
Statue of Adm. Koxinga in Tainan, Taiwan
Reading Kaplan is like reading the best excerpts from the best books in the stacks of the best libraries. His bibliography weaves in such diverse sources as Aristotle, Sun Tzu, Thucydides, Machiavelli, John Stuart Mill, Lee Kuan Yew, Barbara Tuchman, University of Hawaii historian Leonard Andaya, Joseph Conrad, Steven Pinker, Mingjiang Li and Jonathan Fenby.

Some interesting insights from "Asia's Cauldron," in random order:
  • Seventy percent of modern Taiwanese are part aboriginal, "Malay in origin."
  • The last three chiefs of the Malaysian Navy are graduates of the U.S. Naval War College.
  • Early Chinese explorer Cheng Kung, or Adm. Koxinga (feted in both mainland China and Taiwan) had a Japanese mother.
  • According to Kaplan: "After Singapore, postnational Malaysia, with all of its Islamic pretensions, is America's most reliable – albeit quietest – ally around the South China Sea (though Vietnam may soon surpass Malaysia in this regard)."
  • On Eastern and Western views: "The Western – and particularly the American – tendency is to be suspicious of power and central authority; whereas the Asian tendency is to worry about disorder."
  • Indo-Asia-Pacific: By 2050, seven of nine billion people in the world will live in Asia, the Middle East and East Africa.
  • The Philippines has an "aesthetic of material devastation" brought on, in part, according the Kaplan, by America's colonial blunder and Spain's colonization via Mexico in the Philippines.
Martial law declared Sept. 21, 1972.
The Philippines stands in in sharp contrast to the Asian tigers like Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, Kaplan says. The culture of corruption, bureaucracy and inequality in the distribution of wealth is a legacy perpetuated by former President Ferdinand Marcos and his First Lady Imelda Marcos.

American occupation of the Philippines that ended just over 100 years ago was seen as a "model of enlightenment," as Kaplan quotes Stanley Karnow, author of "In our Image."  Kaplan writes:
"The Philippines, in turn, affected the destiny of twentieth-century America to a degree that few faraway countries have. Ohio judge William Howard Taft's leadership of the Philippine Commission propelled him to the presidency of the United States. Army Captain John 'Black Jack' Pershing, who would head the expedition against Pancho Villa in Mexico and command American forces in World War I, was promoted to brigadier general over nine hundred other officers after his stellar performance in leading troops against Islamic insurgents in the southern Philippines. Douglas MacArthur, son of Army General Arthur MacArthur, came to the Philippines to command an American brigade and returned for a second tour of duty as the indigenous government's military advisor. One of Douglas MacArthur's aides in Manila was a middle-aged major, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who honed his analytical skills for World War II by attempting to organize a Philippine national army. The Japanese victory over General Douglas MacArthur's forces on the Philippines, MacArthur's last stand on Corregidor in Manila Bay before retreating to Australia, the subsequent Japanese atrocities committed against both American and Filipino prisoners of war during the Death March on the nearby Bataan Peninsula, and MacArthur's triumphal return to the Philippines in the battle of Leyte Gulf, all became part of the Homeric legend of World War II that bound Americans to their military, and gave the American and Filipino people's a common historical inheritance."
Gen. MacArthur inspects the beachhead at Leyte Gulf, Oct. 24, 1944.
The Philippines remains crucial, he says, in large part because of its location and potential. "And yet, despite a century's worth of vast annual outlays of American aid, the Philippines has remained among the most corrupt, dysfunctional, intractable, and poverty-stricken societies in maritime Asia, with Africa-like slums and Latin America-style fatalism and class divides." Kaplan makes no Israel comparisons with the Republic of the Philippines, instead raising the risk of the Philippines becoming "Finlandized" by China.

Read "Asia's Cauldron" to see Kaplan's recommendation for a nuanced approach to the region, to interaction with China and to debates about contested islands, rocks and shoals in the Pratas, Paracels and Spratleys. This book shows how the U.S. Navy is viewed by key nations throughout the region who are embracing capitalism and seeing the benefits of freedom, critical thinking, and cooperation.
A case for optimism in a world where history rhymes rather than repeats: "The sea, unlike land, creates clearly defined borders, and thus has the potential to reduce conflict ... It is because of the seas around East Asia that the twenty-first century has a better chance than the twentieth of avoiding great military conflagrations."

LUMUT, Malaysia (June 18, 2014) A sailor from the Royal Malaysian Navy shakes hands with a Sailor from the guided-missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) after playing the Malasian game takraw. Pinckney participated in exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2014. 
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Tim Miller/Released)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mark Twain's Colors: 'Following the Equator'

by Bill Doughty

This is a book by one of America's greatest writers. Mark Twain's "Following the Equator" takes the reader not just to different places around the globe but also back in time. Volume I covers the Pacific Ocean – to Hawaii and Fiji, to Australia and New Zealand. Volume II continues into the Indian Ocean from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and India to Africa.

"Following" is fun, fantasy and philosophy. It's storytelling, daydreams and nostalgia.
"On the seventh day out we saw a dim vast bulk standing up out of the wastes of the Pacific and knew that that spectral promontory was Diamond Head, a piece of this world which I had not seen before for twenty-nine years. So we were nearing Honolulu, the capital city of the Sandwich Islands – those islands which to me were Paradise; a Paradise which I had been longing all those years to see again. Not any other thing in the world could have stirred me as the sight of that great rock.  In the night we anchored a mile from shore. Through my port I could see the twinkling lights of Honolulu and the dark bulk of the mountain-range that stretched away right and left."
More than a century later, during this summer of 2014, thousands of Sailors from nearly two dozen countries are discovering Diamond Head and Honolulu during the world's largest maritime exercise: Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC 2014). They may be seeing the same kinds of vistas as Twain describes:
"We had a sunset of a very fine sort. The vast plain of the sea was marked off in bands of sharply contrasted colors; great stretches of dark blue, others of purple, others of polished bronze; the billowy mountains showed all sorts of dainty browns and greens, blues and purples and blacks, and the rounded velvety backs of certain of them made one want to stroke them, as one would the sleek back of a cat. The long, sloping promontory projecting into the sea at the west turned dim and leaden and spectral, then became suffused with pink – dissolved itself into a pink dream, so to speak, it seemed so airy and unreal. Presently the cloud-rack was flooded with fiery splendors, and these were copied on the surface of the sea, and it made one drunk with delight to look upon it."
Alfred Thayer Mahan
Mark Twain
Twain transited the Pacific in 1895, the same year that then-Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, intellectual father of the industrial-age Navy, commanded USS Chicago and sailed the Atlantic. Twain's "Following" was published in 1897, the same year as Mahan's "The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future" and "The Life of Nelson: The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain."

Twain visits Nelson, New Zealand. Two years earlier that country established women's right to vote, a right that would take 25 more years to become a reality in the United States, much to Twain's chagrin.

The shadow of Captain Cook, Admiral Nelson and Great Britain looms throughout Twain's travels. Just three decades after the Civil War, he eviscerates imperialism and racism. Using a virtual magnifying glass, he examines his world  introspectively and actually.

A statue after an ice storm.
He describes the duckbill platypus in Australia, the crow in India and a chameleon in Africa. He is enthralled with funeral rituals, religious traditions and how people treat each other. His greatest reverence is for nature. To Twain, the Taj Mahal is no more beautiful than an ice-storm, "Nature's supremest achievement in the domain of the superb and the beautiful":
"The ice-storm occurs in midwinter, and usually its enchantments are wrought in the silence and the darkness of the night. A fine drizzling rain falls hour after hour upon the naked twigs and branches of the trees, and as it falls it freezes. In time the trunk and every branch and twig are incased in hard pure ice; so that the tree looks like a skeleton tree made all of glass – glass that is crystal clear. All along the under side of every branch and twig is a comb of little icicles – the frozen drip. Sometimes these pendants do not quite amount to icicles, but are round beads – frozen tears.
"The weather clears, toward dawn, and leaves a brisk, pure atmosphere and a sky without a shred of cloud in it – and everything is still, there is not a breath of wind. The dawn breaks and spreads, the news of the storm goes about the house, and the little and the big, in wraps and blankets, flock to the window and press together there, and gaze intently out upon the great white ghost in the grounds, and nobody says a word, nobody stirs. All are waiting; they know what is coming, and they are waiting – waiting for the miracle. The minutes drift on and on and on, with not a sound for the ticking of the clock; at last the sun fires a sudden sheaf of rays into the ghostly tree and turns it into a white splendor of glittering diamonds.  Everybody catches his breath, and feels a swelling in his throat and a moisture in his eyes – but waits again; for he knows what is coming; there is more yet. The sun climbs higher, and still higher, flooding the tree from its loftiest spread of branches to its lowest, turning it to a glory of white fire; then in a moment, without warning, comes the great miracle, the supreme miracle, the miracle without its fellow in the earth; a gust of wind sets every branch and twig to swaying, and in an instant turns the whole white tree into a spouting and spraying explosion of flashing gems of every conceivable color; and there it stands and sways this way and that, flash! flash! flash! a dancing and glancing world of rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, the most radiant spectacle, the most blinding spectacle, the divinest, the most exquisite, the most intoxicating vision of fire and color and intolerable and unimaginable splendor that ever any eye has rested upon in this world, or will ever rest upon outside of the gates of heaven."
Twain can be serious, but the author of "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" was in his orbit when he used whimsy and wit to describe his world. 

His power of observation extends to other languages, accents and people, often in sharp, tongue-in-cheek ways, such as his description of a Boer traveler on a train in South Africa:
"One man had corduroy trousers of a faded chewing-gum tint. And they were new – showing that this tint did not come by calamity, but was intentional; the very ugliest color I have ever seen. A gaunt, shackly country lout six feet high, in battered gray slouched hat with wide brim, and old resin-colored breeches, had on a hideous brand-new woolen coat which was imitation tiger-skin – wavy broad stripes of dazzling yellow and deep brown. I thought he ought to be hanged, and asked the station-manager if it could be arranged. He said no; and not only that, but said it rudely; said it with a quite unnecessarily show of feeling. Then he muttered something about my being a jackass,and walked away and pointed me out to people, and did everything he could to turn public sentiment against me. It is what one gets for trying to do good."
When Samuel L. Clemens as Mark Twain ends his 13-month global circumnavigation and feels very proud, his pride is quickly extinguished when he is forced to consider his place and time in the Cosmos after hearing about the latest astronomical discovery. "Human pride is not worth while; there is always something lying in wait to take the wind out of it."

Read "Following the Equator" to discover more – in time.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

'The War That Ended Peace' / 'Poilu'

Reviews by Bill Doughty

Two recent books about World War I offer different perspectives -- one from a broad sweep of world history and the other from inside narrow muddy trenches and a "lunar landscape" battlefield.

Margaret MacMillan, Oxford University professor of history, presents a comprehensive look at events leading up to and through what writer H.G. Wells said would be "the war to end war." Macmillan's "The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914" shows how peculiar personalities and poor choices led to death and destruction in Europe 100 years ago.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright endorsed this book, which has been compared with the classic "The Guns of August" by Barbara Tuchman. Albright said: "'The War That Ended Peace' tells the story of how intelligent, well-meaning leaders guided their nations into catastrophe. These epic events, brilliantly described by one of our era's most talented historians, warn of the dangers that arise when we fail to anticipate the consequences of our actions. This is one of the finest books I have ever read on the causes of World War I."
MacMillan's book has been compared with Tuchman's "The Guns of August."
MacMillan introduces us to characters like Kaiser Wilhelm II, Bernhard von Bülow, Adm. Jacky Fisher, Alfred von Tirpitz, Nicholas II, Edward Grey, Leopold von Berchtold, Raymond Poincaré, and both Helmuth von Moltkes (elder and younger). She asks rhetorically whether these men were to blame for causing the clash of nations.

"Or was no one to blame? Should we look instead at institutions or ideas?" The history of WWI must be painted on a canvas of imperialism and seen through the lens of extreme nationalism.

MacMillan goes back decades before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the days of Napoleon and War of 1812 through the rise of Japan and overreach of Russia, Germany and Britain to explain how nations competed for resources and refused to respect other's territories.
"Where today the international community sees failed or failing states as a problem, in the age of imperialism the powers saw them as an opportunity. China, the Ottoman Empire, Persia, all were weak, divided, and apparently ready to be carved up."
A key influence for all major nations in an era of colonial expansion was Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan's 1890 classic, "The Influence of Sea Power Upon History." Mahan's book showed leaders the role of navies in world commerce and led to a race by Germany and Britain to build ships.
"A strong navy protected the key highways for trade and communication across the oceans, and, equally importantly, enabled the seizing and holding of colonies. Its battle fleets could serve as a deterrent, especially if they were situated in key strategic locations. 'The fleet in being,' as Mahan and others called it, did not necessarily have to fight; it could be used to put pressure on a hostile power in peacetime and make that power think twice before risking its own fleet, even if it were bigger. In war, though, it was the duty of the battle fleet or fleets to destroy the enemy in a decisive battle."
Inspection in the trenches of WWI.
Of course, when war came in 1914, much of the fighting was on landlocked battlefields in France and Germany.  Churchill called the peace before the Great War "exceptional tranquillity." The tranquillity was destroyed by what MacMillan concludes was "a failure of imagination" and "lack of courage" to prevent war.

MacMillan's perspective is global and general. For Corporal Louis Balthas, whose contemporaneous diaries (translated by Edward M. Strauss) are published in this year's "Poilu," the view is muddy and personal -- in and around the trenches -- facing the German "Boche" and "millions of tiny sharp-tongued mosquitoes," and "legions of famished ticks and lice," along with  countless rats and fleas.

I wanted to read this book because my grandfather fought for Germany in the war against the French before emigrating to the United States in the 1920s. I remember the stories he told me of the trenches and being wounded by a French poilu. I still have the old picture book we read together in 1964 about "the Great War," and I treasure the perspective he shared, learning that war and peace were more nuanced and complicated than I had imagined.

Barthas, a barrel maker drafted into the war, writes about the petty tyranny of despotic authority. He shows examples of heroic stoicism, shared humanity between warfighters, and random luck in battle, such as when a soldier's tin of coconut candy, which his girlfriend insisted he carry, ricocheted a bullet near his heart and saved his life.

He describes fear, fatigue and simple gratitude.
"As we left the village, an old lady came up to us, carrying something in her apron. They were some eggs which she handed out to us. As I passed by I managed to snatch one. It's a small thing, an egg, but we were very touched by it. This poor old lady was giving up something necessary for her, to give us this offering. How a gift is made is more important than the gift itself."
Barthas, like Vonnegut, Hemingway and Orwell, writes about the consequences and ironies of war. Like most warriors, he said he fights to preserve peace.

Back home from the war in 1919, he concludes:
"Returned to the bosom of my family after the nightmare years, I taste the joy of life, or rather of new life. I feel tender happiness about things which, before, I didn't pay attention to: sitting at home, at my table, lying in my bed, putting off sleep so I can hear the wind hitting the shutters, rustling the nearby plane trees, hearing the rain strike the windows, looking at a starry, serene, silent night or, on a dark, moonless night, thinking about similar nights spent up there ... Often I think about my many comrades fallen by my side. I heard their curses against the war and its authors, the revolt of their whole being against their tragic fate, against their murder. And I, as a survivor, believe that I am inspired by their will to struggle without cease-fire nor mercy, to my last breath, for the idea of peace and human fraternity."
Both of these books provide deep insights about the First World War and about war, in general, reinforcing the nation's Maritime Strategy, which encourages a cooperative global fraternity and stresses: "preventing wars is as important as winning wars."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Our Key Founder Thomas Paine?

Review by Bill Doughty

Craig Nelson makes a convincing case that a writer (not a lawyer or an elected official) was the key "founding father" of our nation. Writer and immigrant Thomas Paine inspired Thomas Jefferson, John and Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, and he encouraged a new nation-in-the-making. Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" and "American Crisis" series led to the American Revolution and helped hold the Continental Army together in the lowest points of 1776.

Paine's genius was in seeing, thinking and writing clearly. He used words to conquer fear and build confidence. From "Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution and the Birth of Modern Nations":
"In the America of 1776, everywhere they looked, Americans saw reasons to be profoundly afraid -- afraid of what the redcoats would do to them, their families, and their property; afraid of losing their British Empire and their British citizenship; afraid of what this new homemade government would do, and what it would require. Paine answered all of these vague and paralyzing terrors in a mere eight pages."
A low point came in the dead of winter of 1776, just six months after the Declaration -- "we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Paine gave away his copyright and all he earned from "Common Sense" in order to help fund the army. On December 23, when the future of the Revolution seemed to hang by threads, "George Washington ordered his officers to gather their men into small squads and read aloud what Paine had written":

"These are the times that try men's souls ... Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives every thing its value ..."

Historians, and the founders themselves, credit statesman Paine with not only inspiring the army and success in the war but also instigating the Revolution itself.

His "Common Sense" took on the "divine right of kings" and sought to replace it with democratic ideals of individual rights and freedom. He embraced "the eighteenth-century stoic view of selfless devotion to the greater good as key element of virtue."

For Paine and the founders, virtue -- like Navy core values of honor, courage, commitment -- was rooted in Roman and Greek culture but also included "virtue of the heart" gained from the Enlightenment, thanks to Isaac Newton and others. Paine's freedom in thinking spanned centuries and would lead to wider and more open acceptance of science by the end of the 19th century.

Portait by Laurent Dabos.
As a person, Thomas Paine (whose family name was originally Pain) was not the most lovable person. He was generous but strongly opinionated, focused but known to imbibe heavily, fearless but petty about perceived insults. An unnamed contemporary said, "He is as great a paradox as ever appeared in human life." He famously verbally dueled with another thinker of his time, Edmund Burke, arguing with Burke that 'ordinary' people "are civilized enough to govern themselves."

At first loved and respected, Paine would eventually become vilified and hated by most Americans by the end of his life. In later decades he would inspire Americans as diverse as Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Thomas Edison, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Nelson describes him as a visionary who was always ahead of his time. He was one of the first champions of equal rights by editing and publishing in his Pennsylvania Magazine "An Occasional Letter on the Female Sex," which Nelson calls "one of the first arguments in favor of women's rights in America."
Statues of Tom Paine are in Shetford, Norfolk, England; Paris; and Morristown & Bordentown, NJ.
Paine also planted some of the first seeds of the civil rights movement, seeds that would take nearly two more centuries to fully flower.

Cowritten with Thomas Pryor in November 1775, Paine (then still "Pain") wrote "African Slavery in America," an essay "that assaulted every excuse for the trade and demanded immediate emancipation of all Africans in every colony." His was a fearless defense of reason over ignorance or any other justification for human bondage, body and mind.
After Washington's army and navy defeated the British and around the time the founders created the Constitution, Paine, ever-restless and fully committed to egalitarian republicanism, sought to export the idea of individual liberty and representational government.

After the American Revolution, Paine began his "Rights of Man" to help bring democracy and individual freedoms back across the Atlantic to Europe. His ideas and the founders' ideals would eventually reach to the Pacific and beyond. Nelson writes: "Paine's 'Rights' ... brilliantly anticipated, two hundred years ahead of its time, the style of government for close to half the world's nations today."
One of his greatest and most controversial works, condemned by many who never read it, was "Age of Reason." Nelson explores the influence of deism in a chapter called, The Religion of Science: "Besides identifying the deist principles that underlay all faiths, deists suggested that Socrates, Jesus, the Buddha, and Mohammed were each attempting to return his society's corrupt religion back to its natural state -- the state of deism."

Paine's positions in "Rights" and "Reason" led to contempt and condemnation, including by John Adams and Samuel Adams, and charges of sedition in England and France, for which he faced imprisonment and near execution by guillotine.

Prison changed Paine. His disillusionment and feeling of failure were mirrored by other "founding fathers" late in their lives.
"Almost all of Thomas Paine's Enlightenment colleagues spent their last years as he did, believing that their revolutionary programs had failed, that the philosophy of the light had been proved a pipe dream, that their life's work had been entirely for naught and the great dreams of their youth would go forever unrealized. Instead, of course, it would be the shared, hopeless despair of their last years that would in time be proven 'almost categorically' the modern paradox of the world they made."
The founders were in part disillusioned by the growing aristocracy, greed, materialism, disparity of wealth, and anti-intellectualism -- what they saw as a move away from virtue and core values.
"Yet, for anyone needing to be reminded of core Enlightenment beliefs -- that government can only be empowered by its citizens; that such citizens are born with certain natural rights; that none are born superior to any other; that all will be treated equally before the law; and that the state has a duty to help the neediest of its people -- reading Paine offers a political and spiritual inspiration, one that has driven men and women to achieve greatness across history."
Nelson concludes his biography with an excerpt from the final letter written by Thomas Jefferson, "one last bravura manifesto combining the ideas of the Enlightenment, the American and French Revolutions, and Thomas Paine."

Jefferson called for "arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government..."

Imagine if those words and insights could be read and understood in countries harboring violent extremists like ISIS/ISIL, the self-proclaimed "Islamic State."

Nelson quotes a 2004 survey by the Freedom House human rights organization showing democratic elections in 89 countries with "freedom of expression, assembly, association, education, and religion." Sadly, the most recent Freedom House annual country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties, Freedom in the World 2014, concludes: "The state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013."

Professor Eric Foner, another Paine biographer.
The Navy, working with other world navies, protects the freedoms, opportunities and "army of principles" Paine, Jefferson and the other founders achieved and that we celebrate every July 4th, "Independence Day," in the United States. Paine's description of the new nation he helped found: "the noblest work of human wisdom, the grandest scene of human glory, the fair cause of freedom..."

Nelson's "Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations" was published in 2006. It is one of dozens of biographies by great writers and thinkers like Eric Foner, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, Owen Aldridge, David Freeman Hawke, and John Keane. The works by and about Paine are recommended reading for every world citizen interested in the concepts of virtue, freedom and individual/collective responsibility.