Tom Ricks, Tom freakin Ricks, very possibly the dumbest man to comment on military affairs in a field populated with dunces and charlatans has finally hit a new low. Today he turns over his column to some random leftwing chick to attack the reading list recommended by Trump’s National Security Adviser, Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster. She doesn’t object to the list on substance. She just thinks the writers don’t have the right mix of melanin and vaginas. This is his list, and note the list is titled for “military professionals.”
The person attacking him is Heather Hurlburt:
Heather Hurlburt is the Executive Director of the National Security Network, a progressive nonprofit which develops and promotes for experts and non-experts alike national security policies that are both pragmatic and principled. From 2002-2008, Hurlburt ran her own communications and strategy practice, working on global and political issues with political, entertainment, and educational leaders, as well as groups such as DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Stanley Foundation, and many others. Previously, she was deputy director of the Washington office of the International Crisis Group, creating and implementing its Washington outreach around global conflict prevention and crisis recovery. From 1995-2001, Hurlburt served in the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant and Speechwriter to President Clinton, speechwriter for Secretaries of State Albright and Christopher, and member of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff. She has also worked for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and she began her career in Washington at the Congressional Helsinki Commission, where she served as a member of the US delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and an adviser to Congress on European human rights, security and conflict resolution issues. In that capacity, she was part of the US negotiating team, observed elections and helped lead human rights seminars in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Balkans.
She is a Senior Adviser to the U.S. in the World Project of Demos, appears frequently as a commentator in print and new media, and is a regular guest on Robert Wright’s Bloggingheads.tv. Hurlburt holds a BA from Brown University and an MA from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.
The first thing you notice, of course, is that she has never spent a nanosecond in combat boots. From that point on you can discount her opinion of any reading list for military professionals. The next thing you note is that her experience involves in talking about how things should be done rather than, like McMaster, actually doing them. Compare and contrast their accomplishments.
Our new National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s reading list is interesting, but it entirely lacks works by women, or non-Westerners, for that matter.
What might McMasterites miss out on? Lots. As it happens it is women who, in recent years, have given us some of the most insightful, and most unsparing, looks at the recent transformations, successes and failures of U.S. military strategy and political decisionmaking. Here is a sampling of what the general seems to have missed:
And she goes on to list a seemingly random collections of works of strategy that are vagina-centric. I was surprised that she omitted Samantha Power’s book, A Problem From Hell, which criticized the west for allowing ethnic cleansings… much like that the Obama administration unleashed in Syria. Because that fits squarely in the genre Hurlburt recommends, books by people with academic pedigrees but no real experience or understanding. This was the most amusing recommendation:
Rachel Maddow’s Drift is an excellently-constructed, under-appreciated exploration of related themes – with the added benefit of complexifying attitudes on how left and right are “supposed” to think about our military.
Seriously? Rachel Maddow?
What you’re seeing in this preening is simply an exercise in class privilege and arrogance. Hurlburt clearly believes that her crotch and her mediocre resume, when combined, are superior to anything a military officer can possibly know. She’s been a speechwriter. She’s worked at a non-profit. What has this guy done besides accumulate multiple advanced degrees, write a classic political analysis of the Vietnam War, lead men in combat, negotiate with heads of state, and restructure an army? She’s trying to introduce the dumb, knuckle-dragging white guy to what real books and thought looks like. It’s for his own good, donchaknow?