Fort Polk Guardian 02-28-2020

Editor’s note: This is the next in a series of book reviews by retired Lt. Col. Mark Leslie, Directorate of Emergency Services deputy director. The books are part of the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Professional Reading List and can be found on- line at /books/105/105-1-1/index.html . In keeping with the Joint Readiness Training Center’s motto of “Forging the Warrior Spirit,” Leslie will rate each book by rating them using anvils, from one to five — this book received 4 anvils. FORT POLK, La. —If you have not heard of George Friedman, the author of “Flashpoints — The Emerging Crisis in Europe,” and are a military professional, you should have. But if you haven’t, don’t feel bad, I had not either until I picked up a copy of his book last year, “The Next 100 Years,” and lis- tened to it on a recent trip to New Orleans. Friedman is a Hungarian born U.S. geopolitical forecaster and strategist on international affairs. He is a wealth of information and highly regarded in the intelligence commu- nity for his ability to provide con- text, and his contributions to antici- pate economic, social and political crisis world-wide, but especially in Europe. So, as I scoured the CSA’s reading list for the next book to re- view, I was pleased to see his book, “Flashpoints,” on the list. I often think the Army at many levels remains focused on the Mid- dle East as the only conflict zone worthy of consideration. While we spend a lot of time there, there is the rest of the world as a potential con- flict zone. While other areas occa- sionally receive public attention, I think Europe is largely discounted as a potential conflict zone. This is in stark contrast to the Army I entered in the 1980s when Europe was the tip of the spear. Friedman does an excellent job of telling us just how much of a mis- take this is to not recognize the Euro- pean continent as a potential future conflict zone. He divides the book into three sections to make his point. Part one: European Exceptional- ism lays the foundation for the book and I will admit, it drags on in places and I was wondering when he would get to the point of the book and why the CSA had this on the reading list. Bear with it, in parts two and three you will realize just how valuable part one of the book is in helping us, the average reader, grasp what he lays on the table in parts two and three. Part Two: Thirty-One years. In part two, the author does an excep- tional job in laying out the period from World War I until World War II and how much this period in history has shaped the Europe of today. Not only the superficial things that we often consider, like borders and ge- ography, but the psyche, culture, di- vision and in many cases hatred that still lingers and is harbored by many Europeans. How these things impact and shape the feelings of not only citizens, but the policy of countries (and the European Union and it’s many biases and weaknesses) is es- sential to understanding the Europe of today and the many potential flashpoints that Friedman brings to light in part three. Part Three: Flashpoints. Friedman provides excellent analysis in this section of the book and surprised me with his conclusions. While he talks in depth about conflict zones in Eu- rope since 1991, some still active, he doesn’t consider them the actual “flashpoints” but rather as shaping elements to conflict zone. He lays out “flashpoints” worthy of watching: The borderland be- tween Germany and Russia, the Mediterranean flashpoint of massive population movement from North Africa and Turkey into Europe, and rising nationalism and economic in- terdependence. Friedman makes a point to say that while a general war would surprise him, the lack of sig- nificant conflict would surprise him even more. I tend to agree and think he is on to something here. We must continue to keep an eye on Europe. I highly recommend this book for the military professional, especially those headed to an assignment in Europe in any capacity or mission. I wish I had read it when I was a joint staff officer in Europe. The context and history of a continent and how it thinks is right here in this book and would have helped my approach on many initiatives. More importantly, as the Army seeks to think more “near peer” — and that could mean Russia — fu- ture conflict zones we may find our- selves in could be in the terrain, ge- ography, political climate and cul- ture that Friedman puts into military perspective through the geopolitical lens. Title: Flashpoints – The Emerg- ing Crisis in Europe Author: George Friedman Allen Memorial Library ISBN No.: MS PRL 940.56 Viewpoint 2/ Guardian Feb. 28, 2020 The Guardian , a civilian enter- prise newspaper, is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of the Guardian are not necessarily official views of, or en- dorsed by, the U.S. Government, De- partment of Defense, Department of the Army or Fort Polk. The Guardian is published weekly by the Public Affairs Office, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. Printed circulation is 13,000. Everything advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage with- out regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation or any other nonmerit factor of the purchaser, user or patron. A confirmed violation of this policy of equal opportunity by an ad- vertiser will result in the refusal to print advertising from that source. All editorial content of the Guardian is prepared, edited, pro- vided and approved by the Public Af- fairs Office, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. The Guardian is printed by the Natchitoches Times , a private firm in no way connected with the Depart- ment of the Army, under exclusive written contract with Fort Polk. The civilian printer is responsible for com- mercial advertising. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts and supplements, does not constitute en- dorsement by the Department of the Army or the Natchitoches Times of the products or services advertised. Guardian Editorial Staff Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commanding general Col. Ryan K. Roseberry Garrison commander Kim Reischling Public affairs officer Chuck Cannon Command information officer Angie Thorne T.C. Bradford Keith Houin Staff writers Editorial Offices Building 4919, Magnolia Street Fort Polk, LA 71459-5060 Voice (337) 531-4033 Fax (337) 531-1401 Email: Trading post ads: Fort Polk Homepage Advertising For advertising contact (337) 404-7242 Email: Author points to Europe as potential military ‘flashpoint’ By Retired Lt. Col. MARK LESLIE DES Leslie Advertising For advertising contact Theresa Larue ( ) E ail: sales