Friday, August 9, 2013

Paul D. Miller

Paul D. Miller is a political scientist in the National Security Research Division at the RAND Corporation. He served as Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council staff from 2007 through September 2009. Prior to joining RAND, Miller was an assistant professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., at which he developed and directed the College of International Security Affairs' South and Central Asia Program. He also worked as an analyst in the Central Intelligence Agency's Office of South Asian Analysis, and served in Afghanistan as a military intelligence officer with the U.S. Army.

Miller's new book is Armed State Building: Confronting State Failure, 1898–2012.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Miller's reply:
It's not often I get bragging rights for my reading list, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I actually recently read Tolstoy's War and Peace. I've been trying to read the classics that I never got around to earlier in life, and this was the big one. It reads like Pride and Prejudice and Blitzkrieg: a story of the lives and loves of a bunch of 19th Century European aristocrats as the apocalypse happens around them. I loved it. Tolstoy is famed for his minute descriptions of the manners and inner lives of his characters; as a veteran, I found his battle scenes equally vivid and believable. Of course, Tolstoy uses the grand narrative of Napoleon's invasion of Russia (which doesn't actually happen until page 603) as an excuse to pontificate on his idiosyncratic, somewhat fatalistic view of free will and historical determinism. It's a view I don't agree with, but it is one which with it is worth grappling.

Professionally, I am working my way through Henry Nau's book on international security and U.S. foreign policy At Home Abroad. It attempts to blend realism with the insights of the democratic peace literature. The theoretical section is brilliant—I am both chagrined and relieved to find I have really no original thoughts of my own at all—but the application is a bit out of date, as the book is over a decade old.
Learn more about Armed State Building at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue