Friday, March 23, 2012

NDU Press Joins Pinterest

Between Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, it may seem like there’s little room for a new kid on the social media block.  Pinterest is proving this to be false.  With 1.36 million visitors a day, the new social media network is growing at an alarming rate.

So what exactly is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows users to share ideas and images they find interesting and inspiring.  Users upload or share images on Pinterest, these images become known as pins.   These pins can then be posted onto users own categorized, themed boards (See Image 1).  Boards can be created for any topic.  The social media site works to connect users through the “things” they find interesting.  These things could be a favorite book, toy, or recipe. 

Image 1.  Sample Pinterest board.

Who’s Using It?
Non-profits and retailers have quickly jumped on the bandwagon, while many government agencies have been slower to adopt the new network.  This hesitation may have to do with the current demographic of Pinterest users in the U.S.  In the U.S. Pinterest users are predominantly female, while in the UK the majority of the users are actually male.  Interestingly, the U.S. Army has used the U.S. demographic to their advantage.  Major Juanita Chang, Director of Online and Social Media for the U.S. Army explains:

“We saw that would be a way that we could potentially reach an audience that we don’t normally reach with our other platforms.  We know Pinterest is highly dominated by women.  A lot of people that follow the military are men because that's the majority of the military. We want to connect and reach out to the female population and maybe the Army spouses and family members -- the people who wouldn't have any other reason to follow the military otherwise.”

The Army’s boards reflect the targeted demographic and include boards on Army Style and Fashion, Chow, and DIY & Décor.  That being said, the social media site is still very new and it is likely that the demographic will continue to evolve.  Ryan Sammy, Director of Web Production at BlueGlass Interactive predicts, “As Pinterest grows, the male demographic will continue to grow and the site might eventually become balanced between genders.”  

What’s NDU Press Doing With Pinterest?
A great deal of time goes into the planning of the NDU Press quarterly journals, Joint Force Quarterly and PRISM.  Images are carefully selected and captioned to match each article.  The result is a beautifully designed scholarly print journal with a quality that is virtually unmatched across both the private and public sector.  Now when it comes to the web, NDU Press tends to put a greater emphasis on the content vs. design.  This clean, simplistic approach to web design has proven to be very successful and our site gets an average of 12,500 visitors a month.  And while I do believe the focus should be on the article’s content, Pinterest offers us a way to successfully showcase the images that set PRISM and JFQ apart from so many other journals.   

Where To Find Us
To follow NDU Press on Pinterest, click here:


Bryan Bishop, “US Army Turns to Pinterest and Social Media to Engage with a Broader Audience,” The Verge, February 23, 2012, available at <>.

Christine Erickson, “13 Pinteresting Facts About Pinterest Users,” Mashable, February 26, 2012, available at

Rebecca Greenfield, “What the Army is Doing on Pinterest,” The Atlantic Wire, February 21, 2012, available at < >.

Ryan Sammy, “The Bro’s Guide To Pinterest,” BlueGlass, February 21, 2012, available at

Vikki Chowney, “More Male Users in UK than Female: Infograph,” Econsultancy, February 15, 2012, available at 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bin Laden’s Legacy: Why We’re Still Losing the War on Terror

Bin Laden’s Legacy: Why We’re Still Losing the War on Terror
By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
John Wiley, 2011
288 pp. $25.95
ISBN: 978–1–11809–494–5

Reviewed by Diana Wueger

Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. If you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” In Bin Laden’s Legacy: Why We’re Still Losing the War on Terror, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross argues that despite Osama bin Laden’s position atop America’s Most Wanted list for over a decade, the United States has never made a serious effort to understand his—and, by extension, al Qaeda’s—strategy. As a result, we have assumed the role of George Foreman in his famous match with Muhammad Ali; the harder we hit, the more we wear ourselves out as al Qaeda leans back against the ropes and waits.

Gartenstein-Ross provides a wide-ranging synopsis of America’s decade-long struggle against al Qaeda. Over the course of the book, he lays out the missteps the United States has made in its prosecution of the war on terror, beginning with the most fundamental mistake: U.S. inability or unwillingness to consider al Qaeda’s strategy when formulating its responses. According to the author, “[al Qaeda’s] strategy could be known through a nuanced look at bin Laden’s personal history and thought. Even at the time of 9/11, it was clear that bin Laden believed it was essential to undermine the economy of his superpower foe and to make the battlefield on which the American had to fight as broad as possible. U.S. strategic documents analyzing al Qaeda reveal a lack of awareness of these twin goals” (p. 35).  

This lack of awareness of al Qaeda’s interest in weakening the American economy led to a decade of intense politicization of national security, which in turn created a culture in which any amount of spending could be justified in the name of fighting terror. Gartenstein-Ross documents the gross mismanagement of funds, duplication of effort across agencies, and minimal oversight of contractors. This resource inefficiency was most clearly on display in the Department of Homeland Security, where the combination of multi-billion-dollar budgets, tight deadlines, and intense pressure to do something without clear priorities led to massive cost overruns. As the author points out, this wasteful and inefficient spending was itself a boon to al Qaeda in its efforts to drive up the cost to the United States.

The other element of al Qaeda’s strategy involved broadening the battlefield. The United States eagerly embraced this approach without realizing that doing so played into al Qaeda’s hands. In 2002, President George W. Bush said that “the best way to keep America safe from terrorism is to go after terrorists where they plan and hide” (p. 13). This was exactly what bin Laden wanted; by inducing the United States to fight outside its borders, he understood that there would be long-term costs that would put further economic pressure on America. While the war in Afghanistan was a war of necessity, as al Qaeda safe havens would have continued to pose systemic risks to America, Gartenstein-Ross excoriates the Bush administration for the Iraq war, calling it “naïve best-case scenario thinking” that “would erode American power and provide al Qaeda with a remarkable opportunity to regroup” (pp. 101–102). By adding a new battlefield that was previously unconnected to terrorist activity, U.S. policymakers ratcheted up the costs while providing al Qaeda’s leadership time to regroup as the military pulled back in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Throughout Bin Laden’s Legacy, Gartenstein-Ross repeatedly returns to our failure to treat al Qaeda’s leaders as people capable of sophisticated strategic thought. Bin Laden believed that “economic power was the source of U.S. military might, and thus . . . saw weakening the economy as a critical aspect of victory” (p. 9). Through al Qaeda, he promulgated the idea of driving up costs as a way to bring America down; today, we face an enemy that knows we will respond to every attack by increasing our spending. Yet as Gartenstein-Ross argues, we have not treated jihadi terrorists as enemies worthy of understanding. Instead, we have focused on the tactic of terrorism without probing what al Qaeda hoped to gain through its use.

Urgent without being alarmist and eminently readable, Bin Laden’s Legacy is a testament to Gartenstein-Ross’s deep knowledge of his field and his capacity to cut through feeble arguments to lay out only the most salient evidence. His legal training combines neatly with his moderate, academic approach to produce arguments so logical that they seem obvious at first glace; only later does the reader realize this is a fresh read on the past 10 years of counterterrorism efforts.

If there is fault to be found, it is in the final chapter, in which the author lays out a roadmap for future efforts against AQ, its branches and franchises, and jihadi terrorism more broadly. The scope of the effort, however, is too great for a single chapter in a 300-page book. While individual recommendations such as finding a liquid fuel alternative to oil or implementing civil service reform may be necessary, Gartenstein-Ross fails to elucidate how America can achieve those goals. As the author points out, path dependence has the United States firmly in its grip; it will be hard to retool our approach at this late date, and there is insufficient practical guidance in Bin Laden’s Legacy to consider this a guidebook for future counterterrorism efforts.

Nevertheless, as improbable as it may once have seemed, al Qaeda’s goal of crippling the United States is achievable if we refuse to recognize our weaknesses and take a hard look at our unsustainable security structures and our untenable fiscal situation. Indeed, the biggest threat to our security and our way of life may very well be us. Al Qaeda cannot reasonably be blamed for the housing bubble bursting or the debt ceiling crisis, but the combined weight of our self-generated economic misfortunes and the long-term costs of our wars of choice leave us with little spare capacity to respond to the threats we still face from a nimble, adaptive enemy. Bin Laden’s Legacy lays bare al Qaeda’s strategy; the question now is whether we will be able to adapt to face it.

Diana Wueger is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC, covering international and domestic security issues.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Waging War in Waziristan: The British Struggle in the Land of Bin Laden, 1849–1947

Waging War in Waziristan: The British Struggle in the Land of Bin Laden, 1849–1947
by Andrew M. Roe
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010
328 pp. $34.95
ISBN: 978–0–7006–1699–2

Reviewed by Todd M. Manyx

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, Osama Bin Laden, along with senior members of his al Qaeda terror group, decamped his safe haven in Afghanistan for a location believed to be in Waziristan, a remote, mountainous area of northwestern Pakistan.  It is a region of fiercely independent tribes that have refused to submit to outside governance for centuries and that today are part of Pakistan’s semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).  It is particularly well known within the British military as the home of the Fakir of Ipi, an Islamic extremist in the early 20th century, who was the subject of intensive British manhunt efforts consisting of up to 40,000 troops scouring the countryside between 1936 and 1947.  The Fakir was never caught and lived out his days in the region, ultimately dying a natural death in 1960.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign against Al Qaeda

Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign against Al Qaeda
by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker
Henry Holt and Company, 2011
324 pp., $27.00
IBSN:  978–0–8050–9103–8

Students and practitioners of national security strategy have long talked about the importance of uniting all instruments of national power.  Nowhere is this initiative deemed more urgent than in the campaign against transnational terror organizations and al Qaeda.  With stellar access to all levels of Federal authority, authors Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker provide an unprecedented view of how the U.S. Government, across two administrations, has embraced and partially succeeded in creating a whole-of-government strategy to the 21st century’s most salient threat.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New JFQ Editor Completes the Joinup

Dr. William T. Eliason (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) joined the Joint Force Quarterly team as the journal’s Editor in November 2010, and he is already hard at work shaping the first issue that will bear his name on the masthead (Issue 61, 2d Quarter 2011). In advance of that debut, we invited Dr. Eliason to answer a few questions about what readers might expect to see in the journal on his watch.

Naturally, you have been a regular reader of JFQ throughout your military career. What do you think have been the journal’s strong and weak points? Do you have any plans to remake its look or tone?

WTE: One of the best rules I have had when being the “new guy” is to hold off on immediate changes in operations until I get a good sense of where the organization is going. Obviously, JFQ has been highly successful over the past 60 issues, but I also know that the media world the Chairman’s journal lives in has undergone dramatic changes since JFQ began in 1993. What remains a constant and will continue for the foreseeable future is the JFQ mission set down by General Colin Powell when he initiated the journal. Admiral Mullen has repeatedly expressed his view that the pages of JFQ will contain a lively, honest and informed discussion of the issues facing the joint force.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

NDU Press Holiday Scavenger Hunt - PART TWO

The second part of the NDU Press Holiday Scavenger Hunt kicked off today.  We've hidden virtual "easter eggs" throughout the NDU Press website.  A virtual easter egg is an intentional hidden message or feature in an object, such as a Web page. The easter eggs will be planted in graphics and text, which users can click to win prizes. Some easter eggs will only be viewable from specific browsers, adding to the challenge.  Other easter eggs will highlight experimental CSS techniques pioneered by developers such as Andy Clarke and Eric Meyer.  Those participants that find an easter egg will win a prize.

Clues will be posted on our Facebook and Twitter page and new graphics will appear daily, so check back often!  Prizes include a signed copy of Partnership for the Americas by Admiral James G. Stavridis, photographic prints of the National Defense University by Tara Parekh, NDU apparel, and subscriptions to Joint Force Quarterly and PRISM.

The NDU Press scavenger hunt is part of an ongoing Department of Defense–wide effort to shift to a more participatory Web. NDU Press is taking a Web 2.0 attitude, focusing on feedback and collaboration—in addition to first-class information.

There are a few rules:
  1. If you're an NDU employee you can play, but not if you helped put together the scavenger hunt.
  2. You can find as many easter eggs as you want, but you will only receive one prize.  The more easter eggs you find, the better prize you will receive. 
  3. Don't share where you found the easter eggs!
  4. The Scavenger Hunt will close noon (EST) on December 22, 2010.
Click here to read the press release.  Good luck and happy hunting!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NDU Press Holiday Scavenger Hunt - PART ONE

Beginning Tuesday, December 14, the National Defense University Press (NDU Press) will be hosting a holiday scavenger hunt to highlight its Web site and publications. The event kicks off at 12:00 p.m. EDT.  The first question will be posted to the NDU Press Facebook page.

Participants will have to search the NDU Press website for the answer. The answer will appear embedded in a link on the site. You will know that you have found the answer, because the link will be red and bold.

Here is an example:
U.S. Marine Corps' Small Wars Manual is still widely read by military and civilian government officials alike more than 70 years after its publication.

When you click on the red link, you will be taken to a page that contains a KEYWORD and a clue leading you to the next page in the hunt. Remember to keep track of the KEYWORDS!

There are a total of 9 KEYWORDS. The first 10 people to send all KEYWORDS in the right order to will win a prize. Prizes include a signed copy of Partnership for the Americas by Admiral James G. Stavridis, photographic prints of the National Defense University by Tara Parekh, NDU apparel, and subscriptions to Joint Force Quarterly and PRISM.

There are a few rules:
  1. If you're an NDU employee you can play, but not if you helped put together the scavenger hunt.
  2. You can submit as many e-mails as you want, but only one correct answer per person will be considered for a prize.
  3. Don't post your answers where other people can read them!
  4. When you're ready to submit your answers, e-mail them to
  5. The Scavenger Hunt will be open from noon (EST) on December 14 to noon (EST) on December 16, 2010.
Click here to read the press release.  Good luck and happy hunting!