Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Revisiting Defense Strategies: The Applicability of Melvin Laird’s Strategy for Peace

Here it is. Check out the Small Wars Journal posting of my essay from 2011. It's a revised version of the original, Melvin Laird's Strategy for Peace: a 2011 Analysis. Students at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth have found the essay useful for some of the coursework. I hope this version will add to their academic understanding of an interesting period in our defense history. Thanks, as always to the the folks at Small Wars and thanks for keeping a great journal defense affairs. Enjoy.

Revisiting Defense Strategies: The Applicability of Melvin Laird’s Strategy for Peace

Monday, October 14, 2013

Today's Hot Topics, Yesterday's Conversations

Discussions of the world's events today sometimes seems so dire and trapped in a woeful present. Reading headlines and hearing the talking heads and even colleagues discuss current events, one might think today's trials are entirely new and wonder if this world will survive. Well, a quick glance at a series of headlines in history gives me reason to rethink that our world is progressing forward rather than backward. The New York Times has a fascinating interactive of headlines from the International Herald Tribune. Take a trip back to the late 1800s or the mid 1920s or the tumultuous 1950s and see that many of the same trials we worry about today were being worried about then: civil unrest, defense spending, rising powers, existential threats, the collapse of a moral society, etc. The front pages themselves are interesting, but the stories behind the fold reveal the conversations that took place in times we forget.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Education in America - Championing Competition or Cause for Concern

Recent reports are again sounding the alarm for the decline of American education. The LA Times highlights that American adults have low (and declining) reading proficiency. The New York Post warns that US Adults are dumber than the average human! But are they, really? How conclusive are the OECD survey results and what do their trends really mean? Surveys are terribly complicated measures of many factors. The interesting thing about them is that they are hard to draw definitive conclusions. But people attempt to because the numbers in and of themselves can appear illuminating. However, correlation does not necessarily explain causation, nor does it explain relative geopolitical outcomes, i.e. global power parity. They do offer some policy insights to be competitive. Hence, the U.S. has had a history of reforming its education system to be competitive. In terms of higher education, the United States remains the dominant world leader in research institutions by a wide margin, nearly three times the rate compared to the next dominant group – Europe. Thus, I tend to be more skeptical and less cynical about the latest round of figures from a table in a survey depicting the worrisome status of American education. Those sounding bells have been ringing since at least the turn of the 20th century.

Here are a few alternatives to further understand the complex nature of education in America and education globally. In context the surveys themselves warn against creating specific policies to address perceived deficiencies, instead offering general observations for broader strategic education initiatives. In terms of meaning, their underlying importance is hard to determine. They may offer insight into the degree of competitiveness a country takes and in what manner, such as congressional initiatives to boost STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) competitiveness. For more understanding of the nature of global education consider the following:

PISA analysis

See also 2009 results from the same OECD program.

Lessons from PISA

Interpreting survey results - apples to apples comparison?

Interesting comparison of the American hegemony of higher education

Global education trends,%20Reisberg,%20Rumbley%20Tracking%20an%20Academic%20Revolution,%20UNESCO%202009.pdf

A bit of history. These education data statistics and their confusing meaning are nothing new. The contrast between turn of the century education reform and present day reform are startlingly similar, to include the analysis of particulars that distort general statistical averages, such as socio-economic factors related to reading. Compare the following introduction chapter to the Education paper and PISA survey analysis.

See also how education reform has been a point of domestic policy for a long time (1st chapter),d.b2I

Congressional STEM initiative