The Tank Man

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Many believe the United States and China are on a mutual path to peace and prosperity, citing the “Walmart factor,” and suggesting our economies are so intertwined conflict between our two nations is impossible. For those who believe this, it may be worth remembering a quarter century ago this month China ruthlessly crushed the student uprising in Tiananmen Square.

Such actions should give us pause especially since China has put policies in place to completely block any mention of Tiananmen, an uprising on that date, or any reference to the event where the government turned on its own people. Not only that, but this incident has eerie parallels to events that impact U.S. national security today. Here is how Daniel Henninger put it:

This Thursday is the 25th anniversary of the Tank Man’s solitary protest. On June 5, 1989, the morning after the Chinese army crushed the students’ democracy rebellion in Tiananmen Square, with hundreds dead, a man in a white shirt walked in front of the army’s tanks, driving down a street near the square. For a while, he made the tanks stop.

To this day, no one knows who the brave Tank Man was. But the whole world watched on global television as he stood down the tank commander. When the tanks tried to go around him, he moved in front of them. Eventually, two people came from the crowd and led him away. He was never seen again.

Read more here.

Your Closest Friend

Wall Steet Journal

Can talking to yourself really be O.K.? Be honest. Do you talk to yourself. New research shows this can be a tremendous help to all of us. Researchers say talking to yourself, out loud, is more common than many of us might care to admit. Psychologists call it “self talk” and say how we do it makes a big difference in both our mood and our behavior.

Here is how Elizabeth Bernstein explains it in the Wall Street Journal:

Self-talk is what happens when you make yourself the target of your own comments, advice or reminders. Experts consider it a subset of thinking. You’re having a conversation with yourself.

Most people engage in self-talk, experts say, though some do it louder and more often than others. When I asked, I heard from people who talk to themselves in the basement, in their cubicle at work and at the urinal in the men’s room. One woman turns the car radio down so she can hear herself better.

When people think of themselves as another person, “it allows them to give themselves objective, helpful feedback,” says Ethan Kross, associate professor of psychology and director of the Self-Control and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

Both positive and negative words can influence us in positive and negative ways. Say to yourself, “This job interview is going to be a cakewalk,” and you might not get pumped up enough to ace it. Conversely, tell yourself, “You just lost that match, you need to focus harder,” and it could spur you to do better in the future.

Read more here

Understanding the Mideast

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When we began to do our research and due diligence to conceive and write, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes we started out with scores of scholarly books to consult. We whittled that down to just a dozen key books that helped us understand the conundrum that is the Greater Middle East.

At the very top of that short list was Bernard Lewis classic: The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years. We commend it to anyone who wants to begin to understand this complex region in 2014. Here is what booklist has to say about this gem:

For more than 50 years, Lewis has strived mightily and successfully to explain the cultures and histories of Middle Eastern peoples to Western readers. The task of writing a political history of the region has already been fulfilled by him and by many others. In his latest work, Lewis has chosen to accentuate the social, economic, and cultural changes that have occurred over 20 centuries. He ranges from seemingly trivial concerns (changes in dress and manners in an Arab coffeehouse) to earth-shaking events (the Mongol conquest of Mesopotamia) in painting a rich, varied, and fascinating portrait of a region that is steeped in traditionalism while often forced by geography and politics to accept change. As always, Lewis is eloquent, incisive, and displays an intuitive grasp of the social dynamics of the culture he describes. Both scholars and general readers with an interest in the Middle East will find this work a delight. Jay Freeman

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes takes the reader on a fast-paced thrill ride through Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and the Greater Middle East.

U.S. Navy Missile Defense

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The U.S. Navy is the world leader in missile defense. For me, the story of the U.S. Navy’s journey to achieve effective fleet air defense is a personal one – and one that drove my professional career choices. But this is not a mere walk down “memory lane” or a bit of mid-life nostalgia, but an important point that helps, I believe, to illustrate the challenges facing surface-to-air missile development and Fleet operational deployment.

Read more about this journey and about U.S. Navy air and missile defense on the Defense Media Network website here

Good Books & Good Writers

Writing Techniques

It’s rare when an accomplished journalist like the New York Times David Brooks is so self-revealing he begins an Op-Ed (in this case, two Op-Eds written earlier this month) with, “I thought I might spend a couple columns recommending eight books that have been pivotal in my life.” These books might change your life too.

Read more here:

Really Good Books, Part I

Really Good Books, Part II

Published Praise for Out of The Ashes

Out of the Ashes

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes
Dick Couch and George Galdorisi. St. Martin’s Griffin, $15.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-02683-5

Fans of the original Op-Center series created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik that ended with Jeff Rovin’s War of Eagles (2005) will welcome this solid continuation from Couch (SEAL Team One) and Galdorisi (Coronado Conspiracy). The original Op-Center, “an information clearinghouse with SWAT capabilities,” fell under the budget ax and was disbanded, but after a horrific series of bombings at four NFL stadiums, U.S. president Wyatt Midkiff decides to dust off the Op-Center file and bring the group back to life. Chase Williams, a retired four-star Navy admiral, agrees to head the new center and hunt down the terrorists responsible for the devastating attack. The trail takes the men and women of the revitalized agency into the Middle East, where they find a new plot aimed at the American homeland. This thriller procedural packs plenty of pulse-raising action. The open ending promises more to come. Agent: John Silbersack, Trident Media Group. (May)

–Publisher’s Weekly

Out of the Ashes
Couch, Dick (Author) and Galdorisi, George (Author)
May 2014. 400 p. St. Martin’s/Griffin, paperback, $15.99. (9781250026835). St. Martin’s/Griffin, e-book, (9781250026828).

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center books (12 in all) were popular, but the series ended after the last one was published in 2005. Now, almost 10 years later, St. Martin’s has resurrected Op-Center with this offering from coauthors Couch and Galdorisi. A series of terrorist attacks at NFL stadiums during games causes havoc, and the president’s response does little to restore confidence. He realizes the time has come to reestablish the Op-Center, a group known for its unmatched SWAT, computer, and infiltration skills. The recruitment process takes up the beginning third of the novel and proves surprisingly compelling. Once the team is up and running, the operation to strike back at the terrorists begins. Couch and Galdorisi are veteran military-thriller authors, and they show their talents here. Op-Center fans will be pleased to have the series back and will look forward to more installments in the future.

— Jeff Ayers

Thriller addicts like me devoured every Tom Clancy’s Op-Center tale.  Now they are back, intricately plotted, with wonderfully evil villains and enough realistic military action and suspense to ruin a couple of night’s sleep. Highly recommended.”

–Stephen Coonts

The U.S intelligence agencies have spent billions since 9/11 learning how to “connect the dots.” But what if there are only one or two dots? Out of the Ashes is a smoothly written story by two authors who understand the inner workings of U.S. intelligence, government, and the military, and tell a frightening and exciting tale about a very new, but also a very old, threat.

–Larry Bond

Op-Center is back with a vengeance!  OUT OF THE ASHES isn’t just a reboot of the Op-Center series; it’s one of the best techno-thrillers to hit the shelves in a long time.  Dick Couch and George Galdorisi have just raised the bar for military adventure fiction.  Suit up, strap in, and hang on, because you’re in for one hell of a ride.

–Jeff Edwards, bestselling author of THE SEVENTH ANGEL and SWORD OF SHIVA

Now, almost 10 years later, St. Martin’s has resurrected Op-Center with this offering from coauthors Couch and Galdorisi…Op-Center fans will be pleased to have the series back and will look forward to more installments in the future.

–Booklist

Even when it’s been disbanded and its creator has died, you can’t keep a good agency down—especially when it’s as badly needed as Clancy’s National Crisis Management Center.

–Kirkus Reviews

Read an in-depth review of Out of the Ashes here. “Coronado’s George Galdorisi Co-Authors Tom Clancy Op-Center Series” –David Axelson

The United States and the World

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Americans have every right to ask: What is the United States’ role in today’s world? While there are many opinions among Americans – many of them at the far poles of internationalism and retrenchment – the thoughtful analysis in the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 is worth considering.

Much has been made in the last decade regarding “America’s decline.”  And given the current Washington gridlock, to say nothing of the shrill predictions of some pundits, one would think the United States is about to become a third-world power. It has become a debate that, while poorly-informed, makes up for it in passion.

Read more about America’s role in the world on the Defense Media Network website here.

The Clancy Tradition Continues

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This year saw two “reboots” the Tom Clancy Op-Center series and another movie starring Jack Ryan – the fifth movie with “America’s action hero.” Adam Kepler put it this way in the New York Times.

Someone once said, “Never trust a man with two first names,” but that wit obviously was not referring to Jack Ryan, the C.I.A. analyst and reluctant action hero of Tom Clancy’s series of spy novels. The closest thing pop culture may have to an American James Bond, the character has appeared in four films, which were collectively rereleased in December by Paramount Home Video as “The Jack Ryan Collection.” And now he is the focus of a fifth, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” which arrived in theaters in January of this year. It turns out that every era gets a Jack Ryan to fit the times.

Read more here.

The U.S. Pivot to the Pacific

The Navy

Much ink has been spilled discussing the United States “Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region” or as it is known more colloquially – especially in naval circles, the “U.S. Pivot to the Pacific.” President Obama put it this way almost three years ago:

“Our new focus on this region reflects a fundamental truth – the United States has been, and always will be, a Pacific nation … Here, we see the future. With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.”

President Barack Obama
Remarks to the Australian Parliament November 17, 2011.

In this prize-winning article in the Australian Navy League’s premier publication, The Navy, we examine whether this “pivot” is real or just rhetoric.

“Like” This

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Social media surrounds us: at home, at work, at play, in our cars, on public transportation – even in our dreams. But is it causing us more anxiety than we can bear? Here’s what Bruce Feiler suggests:

We are deep enough into the social-media era to begin to recognize certain patterns among its users. Foremost among them is a mass anxiety of approval seeking and popularity tracking that seems far more suited to a high school prom than a high-functioning society. Mark Zuckerberg said recently that he wants Facebook to be about “loving the people we serve,” but too often his site and its peers seem far more interested in helping the people they serve seek the love they crave. ABC has also embraced the madness by picking up a comedy for the coming season called “Selfie,” about a woman in her 20s who is more concerned with her followers than her friends.

Read more here.