Thursday, June 28, 2012


"Most of the adversaries Western powers have been fighting since 9/11 are in fact accidental guerrillas: people who fight us not because they hate the West and seek our overthrow, but because we have invaded their space to deal with a small extremist element that has manipulated and exploited local grievances to gain power in their societies."
-David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sun Tzu

"Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack."
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


"Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions."
-Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

Sunday, June 24, 2012


"I rather take this quality to spring from a very common infirmity of human nature, inclining us to be most curious and conceited in matters where we have least concern, and for which we are least adapted by study or nature."
-Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

Saturday, June 23, 2012


"We have, in other words, signally failed to follow Frederick Hartmann's strategic principle of 'conservation of enemies,' which states that although enmity is a permanent feature in international relations, successful powers must avoid making, or simultaneously engaging, more enemies than absolutely necessary."
-David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


"Killing or capturing terrorists is a strictly secondary activity, because it is ultimately defensive (keeping today's terrorists at bay) rather than decisive (preventing future terrorism).  Conversely, programs that address the underlying conditions that terrorists exploit (thus preventing another crop of terrorists from simply replacing those we kill or capture today) are ultimately decisive.  Clearly, like any military or law enforcement strategy, countering AQ requires both the kill/capture of current terrorists and programs to counter their ideology and address the underlying conditions they exploit."
-David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quincy Adams

"America...goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy...She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.  The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.  The frontlet upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence, but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power.  She might become the dictatress of the world:  she would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit."
-John Quincy Adams, as Secretary of State, Address on the Anniversary of Independence (July 4th, 1821)

Sunday, June 17, 2012


"I had one quality possessed by neither of my teachers: a detachment from the business and the firm...It is extremely useful in a young career because it leaves you fearless.  I had the same advantage of recklessness as a driver in a traffic jam with a rent-a-car.  The worst anyone could do to my rent-a-career was take it away, and though I did not actively court that fate, the thought of losing my job didn't trouble me as much as it troubled lifers.  That is not to say I didn't care; I cared immensely.  I thrived on praise more than most and thus sought to please.  But I was willing to take greater risks than if I had felt deeply proprietary about my career.  I was, for instance, willing to disobey my superiors, and that caused them to sit up and take notice far more quickly than if I had been a good solider."
-Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Friday, June 15, 2012


"Naysayers are everywhere. They feel it's the safest position to be in. It's the easiest armor to wear...And they may be right in their negativity; reality may be on their side. But chances are very good that it's not. You can only use their naysaying as one line the spectrum of inputs to your decision. Listen to everyone you need to, and then go with your fearless instinct.

Each of us must work to become a hardheaded realist, or else we risk wasting our time and energy pursuing impossible dreams. Yet constant naysayers pursue no less impossible dreams. Their fear and cynicism move nothing forward. They kill progress. How many cynics built empires, great cities, or powerful corporations?"
-Colin Powell, It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership

Thursday, June 14, 2012


"To succeed, planning alone is insufficient.  One must improvise as well."
-Isaac Asimov, Foundation

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"What do you mean?  What do you demand of your captain?  Are you, then, so easily turned from your design?  Did you not call this a glorious expedition?

"And wherefore was it glorious?  Not because the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and terror, because at every new incident your fortitude was to be called forth and your courage exhibited, because danger and death surrounded it, and these you were to brave and overcome.  For this was it a glorious, for this was it an honorable undertaking.  You were hereafter to be hailed as the benefactors of your species, your names adored as belonging to brave men who encountered death for honour and the benefit of mankind.

"And now, behold, with the first imagination of danger, or, if you will, the first mighty and terrific trial of your courage, you shrink away and are content to be handed down as men who had not strength enough to endure cold and peril; and so, poor souls, they were chilly and returned to their warm firesides.

"Why, that requires not this preparation; ye need not have come this far and dragged your captain to the shame of a defeat merely to prove yourselves cowards.

"Oh! Be men, or be more than men.  Be steady to your purposes and firm as a rock.  This ice is not made of such stuff as your hearts may be; it is mutable and cannot withstand you if you say that it shall not.

"Do not return to your families with the stigma of disgrace marked on your bros.  Return as heroes who have fought and conquered and who know not what it is to turn their backs on the foe."

-Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


"You can't control the efforts that others are putting in.  The important thing is that the people around you see that you are doing everything that you can.  So be as good as you can be.  Remember, talk is cheap, so don't tell them -- show them."
-William J. White, CEO Advice to Launce an Extraordinary Career

Monday, June 11, 2012


"To the extent that you focus on making a contribution rather than getting ahead, you will rise naturally in a company.  Your success will be seen as based on merit and worth.  Your company and colleagues will all benefit from your rise, and they will be eager to help someone they perceive as helpful to others."
-William J White, "From Day One:  CEO Advice to Launce an Extraordinary Career"

Sunday, June 10, 2012


"The factors of numbers, climate and communications favoured us in Mesopotamia more than in Syria; and our higher command was, after the beginning, no less efficient and experienced.  But their casualty lists compared with Allenby's, their wood-chopping tactics compared with his rapier-play, showed how formidably an adverse political situation was able to cramp a purely military operation."
-T.E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


"However, as this was not the way of the directing parties there, I returned at once to Egypt; and till the end of the war of the British in Mesopotamia remained substantially an alien force invading enemy territory, with the local people passively neutral or sullenly against them, and in consequence had not the freedom of movement and elasticity of Allenby in Syria, who entered the country as a friends, with the local people actively on his side."
-T.E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


"Yet with my nobler reason 'gainst my fury
Do I take part:
The rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance:"
-William Shakespeare

Monday, June 4, 2012


"You don't have to explain something you haven't said."
-"Silent" Calvin Coolidge

Sunday, June 3, 2012


"The seeker is never so popular as the sought.  People want what they can't get."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

Saturday, June 2, 2012


"A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least 4 questions:
  1. What am I trying to say, and why?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or ideas will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
And he will probably ask himself two more:
  1. Could I put it more shortly?
  2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?"
-George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"

Friday, June 1, 2012


"But how do you go about handing in your resignation to God? be obliged to admit to yourself that infallibility is not infallible, that there may be error in dogma, that the code does not always have the last word, society is not perfect, authority is ambiguous and can vacillate, the immutable can crack, the law can be mistaken, the court can be wrong!"
-Victor Hugo, "Les Mis"