Category: Book Reviews


When I first ordered ‘The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Drone Bases and Cyberwarfare’ by award winning journalist Nick Turse, author of The Complex: How the Military invades our daily lives, Managing editor of Tomdispath.com and Fellow at the Nation Institute, I was expecting it to be a very large book due to the subject matter that the book covers which was essentially a critique of the Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy objectives and the various decisions they took to strengthen American presence in conflict zones. To my initial surprise, the book was a mere 100 pages which at first was a big let-down for me as I initially thought that it would lack the depth that I yearned for on such a topic. I was wrong. The size of the book was one of its many advantages as all of its chapters managed to provide a balanced, almost bite-sized approach to understanding the different aspects of the subject matter while still having room to enhance the depth of the author’s argument if and when needed.

The book, only being ten chapters long, starts off with one of its most important chapters; The Changing Face of Empire which highlights what the U.S learnt from its two previous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead of the Bush-era types of War, The Obama Administration has been promoting the idea of ‘Jointness’ that forgets “Full-scale invasions and large-footprint occupations on the Eurasian mainland; instead think: Special operations forces working on their own but also training or fighting beside allied militaries (If not outright proxy armies) in hotspots around the world”. And if they are not fighting, the U.S will be on the battlefield still with trainers, commando’s, funds and of course the new weapon of mass destruction…..drones. The new empire is looking for ways to strengthen its position without the need for American soldiers to physically be present in conflict zones. However with that said, it doesn’t mean that the US Army will not be involved in kill missions abroad. In the chapter Uncovering the Military’s Secret Military, Nick Turse starts with a rather frightening reality

“Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now say that 70 times and your done……for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the US military is undertaking operations in a majority of the worlds countries”

The Military’s secret military in this instance is U.S Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and its key component, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) “A clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists”. It was JSOC that delivered the killing of Osama Bin Laden, to which you can find out more about in Jeremy Scahill’s book “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield”

It is safe to say that the Obama Administration is known for its use of drones which is highlighted in the chapter America’s Empire of Drone Bases however a lesser known aspect of the Obama Administration’s attempts to strengthen its position abroad is through the use of training foreign military’s and foreign governments. The Chapter, Pentagon’s Training Missions describes how training foreign governmental armies and security forces actually embed the U.S Government along with those agencies and hence “These join missions ensure tight bonds between the U.S military and the security forces of repressive governments throughout the region, offering Washington access and influence and the host nations of these exercises the latest military strategies, tactics and tools of the trade at a moment when they are, or fear of being, besieged by protesters seeking to tap in to the democratic spirit sweeping the region”. Aside from just training, the idea of arming dictatorships is another policy of the Obama Administration. In the Chapter Arming Middle East Autocrats Nick Turse states “It (The Obama Administration) will continue to broker lucrative deals to send weapons systems and military equipment to Arab despots. Nothing indicates that it will be deterred from its course, whatever the president says, which means that Barack Obama’s reset rhetoric is unlikely to translate in to meaningful policy change in the region” which again, embeds the U.S with the regimes of these despots as those very weapons are then unleashed on protesters in the Arab world. The training and arming of foreign military’s allows the U.S government to do what it did in Afghanistan in the 80’s which is to use proxy forces to carry out the U.S’s bidding abroad. Washington puts money in to proxy war exposes how the Obama Administration used secret proxy armies in Afghanistan, Iraq and now it intends to use proxy forces to secure its interests in Africa. For me, the use of proxy forces symbolizes the evolution of the American Empire, how its face has changed under Obama but nothing else which is further elucidated by the author, “While using slightly different methods in different regions, the basic strategy is a global one in which the U.S will train, equip and advise indigenous forces – generally from poor, underdeveloped nations – to do the fighting (and dying) it doesn’t want to do”

Whether if its drones bases to proxy wars, Arming dictators to cyberwarfare, Nick Turse provides a critical contribution that leaves no doubt that the course taken by the Obama Administration is one that will make the world a very dangerous place.

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WITH THE RISE OF “stealth jihad,” “creeping Sharia,” “Islamofascism,” and “terror babies” in places like “The United States of Islamica,” “Eurabia,” and “Londonistan,” who wouldn’t be scared? Fear sells and the Islamophobia Industry — a right-wing cadre of intellectual hucksters, bloggers, politicians, pundits, and religious leaders — knows that all too well. For years they have labored behind the scenes to convince their compatriots that Muslims are the enemy, exhuming the ghosts of 9/11 and dangling them before the eyes of horrified populations for great fortune and fame. Their plan has worked. The tide of Islamophobia that is sweeping through Europe and the United States is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. It is their design. In recent years, Muslim-led terrorist attacks have declined yet anti-Muslim prejudice has soared to new peaks. The fear that the Islamophobia Industry has manufactured is so fierce in its grip on some populations that it drives them to do the unthinkable. This powerful and provocative book explores the dark world of monster making, examining in detail an interconnected, and highly organized cottage industry of fear merchants. Uncovering their scare tactics, revealing their motives, and exposing the interests that drive them, Nathan Lean casts a bright and damning light on this dangerous and influential network.

Product Description

The Islamophobia Industry is a disturbing account of the rising tide of Islamophobia sweeping through the United States and Europe.

Nathan Lean takes us through a world of conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders and politicians, all united in their quest to exhume the ghosts of 9/11 and convince their compatriots that Islam is the enemy. Lean uncovers their scare tactics, reveals their motives and exposes the ideologies that drive their propaganda machine.

Situating Islamophobia within a long history of national and international phobias, The Islamophobia Industry challenges the narrative of fear that has for too long dominated discussions about Muslims and Islam.

About the Author

Nathan Lean is Editor-In-Chief of Aslan Media and a contributing writer at PolicyMic. He is the co-author of Iran, Israel, and the United States: Regime Security vs. Political Legitimacy (2011).

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In order to ensure its racial, ideological, and strategic interests, the Hitler regime actively supported the status quo in Palestine and the Middle East during the interwar period. This included the perpetuation of British imperial power in Palestine, the Jewish National Home (not an independent Jewish state) promised by the Balfour Declaration, and the rejection of Arab self-determination and independence.

The Third Reich and the Palestine Question is the first comprehensive study of German Palestine policy during the 1930s. Francis R. Nicosia places that policy within the context of historical German interests and aims in Palestine, the Middle East, and Europe from the Wilhelminian era through the Weimar period and the Third Reich. He also provides insight into the broader foreign policy aims and calculations of the Nazi regime throughout the Arab Middle East before World War II.

In a new introduction, Nicosia places his ground-breaking research in its proper historical perspective. He reviews some of the recent literature on the history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. He also discusses some of the archival materials that have recently become available in the former German Democratic Republic and Soviet Union.

“Nicosia has written the definitive study of this fascinatingepoch in the histories of the participants. It is a masterful examination of every interwoven thread in the complicated tapestry of Nazi Germany’s relations with the Middle East, as well as with Great Britain and the Zionist movement.”–Arnold Krammer, American Historical Review

“The tight structure of the book, lucid narrative, and exhaustive use of relevant sources lend this book a definitive character.”–Martin Kramer, Middle Eastern Studies

“A masterly piece of scholarship, Nicosia’s historical study defines the aims and purposes of Nazi foreign policy toward Palestine in the thirties A valuable addition to an often neglected area of Holocaust studies.”–Dimensions, A Journal of Holocaust Studies

Francis R. Nicosia is professor of history at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

In The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness the author Michelle Alexander makes a highly convincing case of the existence of a new underclass within American society due to the American Justice System. This underclass, she states, not only ha lesser rights than some of those in the Jim crow era but they are stuck in this perpetual form of punishment that is meted out by a system that the author claims that was derived from institutionalised slavery- the American Justice System itself.
She starts the book off by setting the scene, the conditions that existed during slavery and what gave rise to the abolitionists but this reaction didn’t end slavery but it rather helped transform it in to another system of control, Jim crow: a system where many ex-slaves would be managed. The conditions of Jim crow once again gave rise to dissenting voices calling for the end of Jim Crow. But Michelle Alexander argues that what really happened was that white liberals were calling for a new system of control, a system much like its predecessor while giving the impression that Jim Crow is abolished, this system is known as the American Justice System. The American Justice System gives prisoners the same rights as what the slaves faced during slavery, economic dependency and discrimination, now faced in housing, education and employment.

But what she goes on to argue with clarity is that African Americans are targeted through this system via the crackdown on crime which many politicians use to secure white votes and this is really prevalent in the United States domestic policy when it comes to the War on Drugs. The author stated to prior to the war on drugs, drugs use was on the decline in many urban neighbourhoods throughout the US, only for the drugs use to rise as a result of the US’s activities in Nicaragua. She explains the CIA’s complicity in letting cociane flourish through many African American neighbourhoods in order to fund their war in Nicaragua which created a drug epidemic. However with this problem, statistics still showed that white people are more likely to participate in cocaine use than their black counter-parts yet half of the African American community is connected to the American Justice system which shows the overall nature of the American justice system.

The book is simply a profound and outstanding read which will be the catalyst for an eye opener to many who hold on to the erroneous belief that the fight for civil rights is far from over – in this book Michelle alexander will show you that it is not.

Michelle Alexander – Drug War Racism

Postmodern imperialism: Geopolitics and the great games is simply a crucial read for all those who want to harbour an understanding of how imperialism has evolved in to what it is now, the Imperialism of the past with sim0ply a different makeover.

Starting off with describing the environment that surrounded the British Empire, the methods it used for its expansion and the causes of its subsequent decline, Eric Walburg explains how that it was the British Empire that provided the initial blueprint for the US ‘Empire’ in its fight against the red menace – communism.

Although the US planted the initial foundations of Al Qaeda by training and providing funds for the Afghan rebels in their war against communism in 1979, this was also a pivotal factor, along with others being that of democracy, that provided the initial motivations for the US to develop its strategic special relationship with Israel as Israel was successful in defeating another ally of communism – Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt.

It is precisely with the example of Israel where the author argues how Imperialism was able to go through another ‘metamorphosis’. Israel, initially a client state of the US, is in fact in control of the US’s middle east policy and is influential in other nation states through the use of its powerful lobbying groups, its Jewish religious movements like the Chabad Lubavitch movement (which has links to far right organisations like the English Defence League), the Jewish diaspora which is used by Mossad (Israeli secret service) as spies on behalf of the state of Israel and through its mafia like the Kosher nostra who bring in tremendous financial surplus to the Israeli state due to their investment in international security organisations and arms dealing.

Through the various methods mentioned above, the book illustrates how Israel its playing its own geostrategic game to the point of even supplying arms to the competitor of the United states itself – China – in its quest to be the middle easts only regional hegemon – the Greater Israel.

Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the great games simply provides you with a critical diagnosis of how imperialism has evolved, how we are still living in the age of empires and what nations hold the keys to confronting western imperialism.

Pulling back the curtain on the secretive world of the global arms trade, Andrew Feinstein reveals the corruption and the cover-ups behind weapons deals ranging from the largest in history – between the British and Saudi governments – to BAE’s controversial transactions in South Africa, Tanzania and eastern Europe, and the revolving-door relationships that characterise the US Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex. He exposes in forensic detail both the formal government-to-government trade in arms and the shadow world of illicit weapons dealing – and lays bare the shocking and inextricable links between the two.

The Shadow World places us in the midst of the arms trade’s dramatic wheeling and dealing, ranging from corporate boardrooms to seedy out-of-the-way hotels via far-flung offshore havens, and reveals the profound danger this network represents to all of us.

Below is a short video of the book

You can buy it from here