Saturday, October 01, 2016

Book Recommendation: Rosa Brooks

The book is "How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon", the author is Rosa Brooks, the daughter of Barbara Ehrenreich, the leftish foodie and writer.  Interestingly, Brooks is now married to a colonel in the Special Forces, having spent time in the bureaucracies of the State Department (Bill Clinton admin) and Pentagon (Obama admin) as a human rights/law of war lawyer. 

The book is a little diffuse, but it gets blurbs from Gen. McChrystal and Anne-Marie Slaughter, former policy wonk in the State Department.  Brooks acknowledges her experiences have changed and undermined her inherited preconceptions, though you still get the idealism of the former human rights activist. To me, of course, the most interesting bits reflected the bureaucracies of DOD and State, and the tension between them, but Brooks' thesis is that the old paradigms of war and peace no longer work, we need to pay attention to the in-between, particularly as impacted by technology, and fashion new rules of law and social structures to deal with social conflict.   I was struck by her thoughts about the individualization of war--we can track and kill individuals now--what does that do to "war", which used to be anonymous mass versus anonymous mass?

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