H.R. McMaster’s ‘Battlegrounds’ a Very Good Second Book

 

Retired Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster’s second book, Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World, while mostly well researched and clearly argued, will not have the institutional significance of his first book Dereliction of Duty, written as a young Army major. If you heard little of Battlegrounds after its publication, that is to McMaster’s credit and our media’s continuing shame. General McMaster kept his honor clean, refusing to put himself out on the same corner Bill Kristol and John Bolton have been working. This is a work well worth your consideration. At the very least, take a look at the brief video summary of his central claim: American long-term failure in foreign policy comes from “strategic narcissism” and a lack of “strategic empathy.”*

“Strategic empathy” refers to the conscious effort to understand the viewpoint, the motivations, of others, rather than projecting assumptions and motives the observer prefers, for whatever reason. “Strategic empathy” is presented as the alternative to wishful thinking across administrations. McMaster is using “strategic empathy” as a term of art, limited to understanding/ taking the other’s position and claimed motivations seriously, not sympathizing. McMaster advances his vision for a more successful foreign policy through country case studies, most importantly addressing Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea. In each case, he names names and cites failures across multiple administrations of both parties.

McMaster points to foreign policy scholars on the left and right arguing for a deterrence policy with a nuclear Iran. He says it is foolish to suggest that deterrence might work with a set of leaders and at least a significant population that deeply believes in the Shia emphasis on supernatural victory through their own blood. Iran’s religious-political leaders believe in “victory of blood over the sword.” This linked text points to official propaganda seriously asserting that America was defeated by killing the Iranian top terror master. His blood, being spilled, supernaturally created victory for the Iranian revolution. Take them seriously, rather than dismissing it as spin, and you see that under no condition can they possibly be allowed a nuclear weapon.

McMaster calls out both the New Left and what he considers the isolationist right. He directly contradicts claims that it is America and the capitalist West that cause the negative behavior of other countries, from Iran and North Korea seeking nuclear weapons, to Russian and Chinese Communist military and influence operations in the near and far abroad. Not only are the New Left’s claims factually suspect, but they take agency, independent will, away from other countries, other peoples. McMaster believes the start point of any sustainable foreign policy, with any hope of really defending American interests, is acknowledgment that Pakistani leaders, Russian leaders, Chinese leaders, are adult human beings who are neither copies of our leaders nor reactive victims of “imperialism” or “capitalism.”

This is not to say that empathy is sympathy for the devil. Far from it. In his detailed accounts of each country case study, McMaster is unsparing in his moral condemnation of malign leaders and regimes, pinning their bad acts and motivations clearly on them, not America, the CIA, Western imperialism, or capitalism.

Unfortunately, the book ends weakly with a chapter about the supposed threat of human-caused catastrophic global warming. McMaster would have us believe he believes that human beings can control the temperature of the planet. Yet, even in this conventional elite posture, he has no patience for left environmentalist nostrums. McMaster supports a great expansion of modern nuclear power plants plus natural gas, pointing out that China’s plan to go electric will actually greatly increase carbon dioxide emissions, plus pollutants, from new coal-fired power plants. So, he is entirely in opposition to the political and corporate establishment, yet he burns bridges to Reagan Democrats/ Tea Party/Trump voters as he fully embraces the left’s vile smear term “climate deniers.” This leftist libel only has power from its derivation, “climate denial” echoing “Holocaust denial.” I get that a man’s got to make a living, and H.R. McMaster acknowledges in passing financial interest, as a board director, in an energy strategy sort of company. However, tacking a “climate” chapter onto the end, acknowledging that he has no special expertise in this field, weakens an otherwise solid book.

Having stumbled past what seems a topic he just had to throw in, McMaster summarizes his argument and makes an appeal, not advanced earlier in the book, for education reform at every level, with a re-dedication to history and civics taught from the view that America’s goodness has come from an imperfect realization of the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. This is a bold, politically controversial position to take today, as is his call for empathy at the interpersonal and domestic level, listening and considering others’ points of view rather than engaging in the politics of outrage and personal destruction.

Yet, McMaster does a bit of name-calling and straw man burning himself when he attacks what he styles “21st-century realists,” who he characterizes as wanting a border wall and a military that only defends us at the water’s edge. He creates the classic staff officer’s three courses of action, every bit as artificial as the false dichotomy of endless war or staying home. Were he more empathetic to Americans with whom he disagrees, he might have generated a humbler and messier book, as the Afghanistan section illustrates.

A young Major McMaster boldly put in print an unequivocal condemnation of men, whose status he aspired to attain, charging that American soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors died in the service of immoral leaders: “Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.” Now, having been promoted to the second-highest active rank, Lieutenant General McMaster took the position that he, as National Security Advisor, must act differently and offer a viable, morally defensible strategy for success in what the American public was coming to see as a “forever war.”

Yet, McMaster’s recommendations for sustained American ground and tactical air forces in Afghanistan rest critically in a change in Pakistan and Iran’s behavior. He lays out for his readers the incentives of Pakistani leaders, “an army with a country,” and Iran’s religious-political leaders’ belief in “victory of blood over the sword,” and yet would have us keep significant ground forces in Afghanistan while counting on Russia and China to pressure Pakistan. What about unilateral pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting the web of jihadists that radiates out from their mountains? Take a look at a map of the region and tell me how you would sustain logistical support if Pakistan closed their air space, ports, and roads. Trace some other sea/land route into Afghanistan that Russia, China, or Iran has no ability to interdict, push come to shove.

Under what real conditions does Pakistan give up its fundamental assumption that Afghanistan is either a source of strategic depth or strategic threat in Pakistan’s ongoing conflict with India? How is a strategy for long-term stability in Afghanistan, unless as a Pakistani dependency, ever not in conflict with what McMaster acknowledges as the self-perceived national interests of the neighboring nuclear power? So, did both Obama and Trump acknowledge some basic truths and respond to military advice by muddling through?

Was the mess created the moment Bush’s national security leaders failed to overwhelm the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the early months, cutting them off or chasing them down into any Pakistani village, refusing to treat Pakistan as Cambodia was for most of the Vietnam War? Was this a dereliction of duty by Rumsfeld and the gang? I saw no comparison being drawn to the squandering of public support by McNamara, Westmoreland, and LBJ. There is a serious argument that if Marine Corps generals’ strategy had been accepted back in 1965, rather than roughly adopted to fight A Better War only after public support had been squandered, then we might have been able to translate military tactical victories into geopolitical success. McMaster does not address whether he entered the position of National Security Advisor at a time relative to 1969 in the Vietnam War, and so whether his good ideas were effectively foreclosed by the missteps of past leaders and the reality of American culture and politics.

Worse, McMaster slurs all of us, who challenged career government workers as a “deep state” resisting our will through resisting President Trump, labeling this criticism in passing as false on its face and arising from an antisemitic “alt-right,” amplified by Putin’s bots. He makes much of Russian influence operations, even as he then shows that their track record of success has been very poor, even counterproductive, as Putin’s openly preferred candidates lost in European elections. Nor can McMaster even acknowledge that the efforts of domestic actors, from social media giants to leaders within the Republican and Democratic parties, to undermine public confidence and acceptance of the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election result and of the Trump administration, swamped the relatively trivial efforts attributed to Russia. Indeed, he approvingly cites as serious the political stunt indictment of Russian officials, by the gang of Democrat party activists organized under Robert Mueller’s cover. And. H.R. McMaster’s book gives no credence to claims that President Trump was Putin’s puppet, to the great disappointment of the Washington establishment.

Finally, because H.R. McMaster had to publish before the 2020 election, he lost the opportunity to incorporate analysis of the astonishing Abraham Accords. Given what he wrote on the Middle East, I suspect any update to the book will include praise for this set of limited results within the context of what McMaster envisioned as a path to peace or greater regional stability.

On balance, H.R. McMaster’s second book is helpful as a summary of long-standing national security challenges around the world, and as an illustration of better strategic thinking. He takes no party partisan position and is deeply critical of foreign policy and defense professionals, and academics’ assumptions since at least the end of the Cold War. McMaster only really stumbles when he looks inward at the American political and cultural landscape, alien to his 34 years of study and practice. He resisted the lucrative and socially approved impulse to openly attack President Trump and his supporters, to the disappointment of the media establishment.** I wonder if what I see as weaknesses in his narrative are a result of, rather than despite, the extensive consultation with academic experts, cited by name at length in the back of the book.

Battlegrounds is well worth your reading. At least check a digital copy out of your public library, as I did.

H.R. McMaster. 2020. Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World. Harper Collins. 560 pages, hardcover list price: $35.

H.R. McMaster is a Hoover Institute senior fellow. See his episode of Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson. Consider some of his other videos with the Hoover Institute.


* These two short videos are a good summary of H.R. McMaster’s basic argument in Battlegrounds:

** Consider the headlines from two major sources:

The Guardian, “HR McMaster to publish book that may pose headaches for Trump

NPR, “Latest Tell-All, By Former National Security Adviser McMaster, Is Not All About Trump

Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster wants you to know he has not written the book you probably wanted to read — and he says it right up front.

“This is not the book that most people wanted me to write … a tell-all about my experience in the White House to confirm their opinions of Donald Trump,” the author warns in his preface.

That might have been “lucrative,” he says, but it would not be “useful or satisfactory for most readers.”

Published in Foreign Policy
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 17 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Except he sold his soul to chinese malware Zoom.

    We have no foreign interests…. at all.  Fracking has changed the world, and largely the rest of the world could capsize and sink into a swamp light itself on fire burn for a thousand years and America would just have a campfire to toast marshmellows.

    • we don’t need the trade – we have the least globally involved in the world.
    • we don’t need the resources – we are largely self-sufficent outside of a few corner cases.  ESPECIALLY after fracking.
    • we don’t need the people – we are huge, well educated, well fed, and so on and so forth.

    We only need Canada and Mexico and the rest of the world can burn, and then we probably only need Alberta and the rest of Canada can burn.

    We definitely don’t need the milestone of walking dead societies walking in old Europe around our neck dragging us down.

    Just to be just as controversial.  Another country that matters exactly 0 to real US interests is Israel.

     

    The best metaphor is hank reardon’s family.  At some point the ugly toxic emotional terrorism will burn the last plank in the last bridge.

    • #1
  2. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Clifford A. Brown: fully embraces the left’s vile smear term “climate deniers.”

    If he is wrong about a topic I know about, then I shall assume he is wrong about topics I don’t know about.  I only know the guy from the Goodfellows podcast and he is the weak leg of that stool.

    • #2
  3. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    A swamp creature with stars. 

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Unfortunately, the book ends weakly with a chapter about the supposed threat of human-caused catastrophic global warming. McMaster would have us believe he believes that human beings can control the temperature of the planet. Yet, even in this conventional elite posture, he has no patience for left environmentalist nostrums. McMaster supports a great expansion of modern nuclear power plants plus natural gas, pointing out that China’s plan to go electric will actually greatly increase carbon dioxide emissions, plus pollutants, from new coal-fired power plants. So, he is entirely in opposition to the political and corporate establishment, yet he burns bridges to Reagan Democrats/ Tea Party/ Trump voters as he fully embraces the left’s vile smear term “climate deniers.” This leftist libel only has power from its derivation, “climate denial” echoing “Holocaust denial.” I get that a man’s got to make a living, and H.R. McMaster acknowledges in passing financial interest, as a board director, in an energy strategy sort of company. However, tacking a “climate” chapter onto the end, acknowledging that he has no special expertise in this field, weakens an otherwise solid book.

     

    He must have been thirsty; he drank the Kool-Aid.

    • #4
  5. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Pass. There’s more interesting and creative stuff published every day at Real Clear Defense.

    I’m not really an all out “pull back to CONUS, build up a larger Navy and an even larger Air Force, build tariff walls”, but I’m within spittin distance. If the post Cold War era has demonstrated anything, the politicians and the military don’t know how to handle anything less than Global Thermonuclear War.

    For all his bull in a China shop flailing, Trump at least had the insight to recognize a few hard realities.

    Afghanistan is a bottomless pit and a “forever” war.

    Pakistan is an army with a country and should be treated at best, as a belligerent neutral.

    Iran will do anything to get a nuclear weapon. It doesn’t matter what our putative European allies wish, an Iranian bomb is potentially the most destabilizing development in the world since 1933.

    We need to acknowledge our support for Taiwan is a paper deterrent. No President is going to fight a major war over Taiwan. We should support Taiwan and arm them to the teeth if they wish. Ultimately it’s up to China whether hot war is a better alternative than a cold peace.

    As noted above, any serious military strategist who mentions “climate” is either checking a box or taking the focus off the main goal.

    • #5
  6. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti
    @BlueYeti

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    Afghanistan is a bottomless pit and a “forever” war.

    Pakistan is an army with a country and should be treated at best, as a belligerent neutral.

    Iran will do anything to get a nuclear weapon. It doesn’t matter what our putative European allies wish, an Iranian bomb is potentially the most destabilizing development in the world since 1933.

     

    We did this show last week on endless wars (in fact, that was the working title of the show — it got changed when we realized the scope of the conversation turned out to be much broader) that features H.R. I think you may find his comments about Afghanistan and Pakistan (and the entire region) interesting.

    Side note to @guruforhire: H.R. (and many others) did extensive vetting on Zoom before joining the board and it is not a “Chinese malware company.”

     

    • #6
  7. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    McMaster’s book is at the top of my stack, next on my reading list.  I’d have to say that Dereliction of Duty was the most influential book about Vietnam that I’ve ever read.  (Before, I would have put The Rise and Fall of an American Army in that position but when it came out that author Shelby Stanton was a war faker, I had a hard time using the book as a reference.)

    Appreciate the review.

    • #7
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Pass. There’s more interesting and creative stuff published every day at Real Clear Defense.

    I’m not really an all out “pull back to CONUS, build up a larger Navy and an even larger Air Force, build tariff walls”, but I’m within spittin distance. If the post Cold War era has demonstrated anything, the politicians and the military don’t know how to handle anything less than Global Thermonuclear War.

    For all his bull in a China shop flailing, Trump at least had the insight to recognize a few hard realities.

    Afghanistan is a bottomless pit and a “forever” war.

    Pakistan is an army with a country and should be treated at best, as a belligerent neutral.

    Iran will do anything to get a nuclear weapon. It doesn’t matter what our putative European allies wish, an Iranian bomb is potentially the most destabilizing development in the world since 1933.

    We need to acknowledge our support for Taiwan is a paper deterrent. No President is going to fight a major war over Taiwan. We should support Taiwan and arm them to the teeth if they wish. Ultimately it’s up to China whether hot war is a better alternative than a cold peace.

    As noted above, any serious military strategist who mentions “climate” is either checking a box or taking the focus off the main goal.

    McMaster is right in calling for much less expensive hardware that fails gracefully, rather than a handful of exquisitely designed systems that fail catastrophically under, say, network attack.

    If we do entirely as you suggest, then we will find ourselves at the mercy of a new superpower, China. There is far more to national power than the military. Working with all of China’s neighbors, while enforcing fair trade and intellectual property protection, goes a very long way to making military action look undesirable to the CCP.

    • #8
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    McMaster’s book is at the top of my stack, next on my reading list. I’d have to say that Dereliction of Duty was the most influential book about Vietnam that I’ve ever read. (Before, I would have put The Rise and Fall of an American Army in that position but when it came out that author Shelby Stanton was a war faker, I had a hard time using the book as a reference.)

    Appreciate the review.

    I welcome your counterpoint when you get the chance to read Battlegrounds.

    • #9
  10. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Pass. There’s more interesting and creative stuff published every day at Real Clear Defense.

    I’m not really an all out “pull back to CONUS, build up a larger Navy and an even larger Air Force, build tariff walls”, but I’m within spittin distance. If the post Cold War era has demonstrated anything, the politicians and the military don’t know how to handle anything less than Global Thermonuclear War.

    For all his bull in a China shop flailing, Trump at least had the insight to recognize a few hard realities.

    Afghanistan is a bottomless pit and a “forever” war.

    Pakistan is an army with a country and should be treated at best, as a belligerent neutral.

    Iran will do anything to get a nuclear weapon. It doesn’t matter what our putative European allies wish, an Iranian bomb is potentially the most destabilizing development in the world since 1933.

    We need to acknowledge our support for Taiwan is a paper deterrent. No President is going to fight a major war over Taiwan. We should support Taiwan and arm them to the teeth if they wish. Ultimately it’s up to China whether hot war is a better alternative than a cold peace.

    As noted above, any serious military strategist who mentions “climate” is either checking a box or taking the focus off the main goal.

    McMaster is right in calling for much less expensive hardware that fails gracefully, rather than a handful of exquisitely designed systems that fail catastrophically under, say, network attack.

    If we do entirely as you suggest, then we will find ourselves at the mercy of a new superpower, China. There is far more to national power than the military. Working with all of China’s neighbors, while enforcing fair trade and intellectual property protection, goes a very long way to making military action look undesirable to the CCP.

    Yeah,  your last sentence is the key.  Supposedly the Biden administration is committed to maintaining “the Quad” (U.S., Japan, Australia and India).  However, that commitment might depend on Joe’s moments of lucidity.  Watching that speech he gave a couple of days ago makes me extremely nervous.

    • #10
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    . Supposedly the Biden administration is committed to maintaining “the Quad” (U.S., Japan, Australia and India).

    AND. This was a problem all the way back in the Bush Jr. administration, when we were talking nice to China and making all our allies very nervous about our projection of motivations onto the CCP. I had a War College classmate from New Zealand who tactfully gave me an earful over beers, warning that China did not have good intentions and was aggressively expansionist. That was in the second GWB term. McMaster sketches the history nicely on this problem area.

    • #11
  12. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Very interesting review. Thank you! I do have some throw-away reading time, but that’s for palette cleansing. In any case, it sounds like an interesting book. I heard his brief interview about this book on Ricochet and it was compelling. It is nice to read a fair and critical review of the book from someone who knows their stuff. Foreign policy isn’t my area at all but I may very well end up buying this because of your review. At least, I’ll try and catch the Uncommon Knowledge. 

    Thanks!

    • #12
  13. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Sir, great review.  I could not have been as fair and even handed as you.

    Strategic narcissism goes straight to the heart of Deplorables issues with the deep state.  Didn’t see where he addressed that.

    Strategic empathy is, I humbly submit, a canard.

    Let’s explore this through a one-over-the-world look at–pick an adversary–Iran.

    -Iron clad, brutal theocracy.

    -Corrupt, top to bottom, side to side.

    -Employs murder and rape as tools of state security.

    -Exports terrorism around the world.

    -Will sign any non-proliferation agreement, then circumvent it in order to gain nuclear weapons.

    -Will almost undoubtedly use nukes, once they get them.

    And we need strategic empathy for that nation-state/regime.  Ooookay.

    I got a better strategic dimension we should develop, exercise and expand:  Strategic Resolve.

    • #13
  14. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Sir, great review. I could not have been as fair and even handed as you.

    Strategic narcissism goes straight to the heart of Deplorables issues with the deep state. Didn’t see where he addressed that.

    Strategic empathy is, I humbly submit, a canard.

    Let’s explore this through a one-over-the-world look at–pick an adversary–Iran.

    -Iron clad, brutal theocracy.

    -Corrupt, top to bottom, side to side.

    -Employs murder and rape as tools of state security.

    -Exports terrorism around the world.

    -Will sign any non-proliferation agreement, then circumvent it in order to gain nuclear weapons.

    -Will almost undoubtedly use nukes, once they get them.

    And we need strategic empathy for that nation-state/regime. Ooookay.

    I got a better strategic dimension we should develop, exercise and expand: Strategic Resolve.

    Yes. Except that McMaster is using “strategic empathy” as a term of art, limited to understanding/ taking the other’s position and claimed motivations seriously, not sympathizing. He says it is foolish to suggest that deterrence might work with a set of leaders and at least a significant population that deeply believes in the Shia emphasis on supernatural victory though their own blood. The linked text I placed in the OP points to official propaganda seriously asserting that we were defeated by killing the Iranian top terror master. His blood, being spilled, supernaturally created victory for the Iranian revolution. Take them seriously, rather than dismissing it as spin, and you see that under no condition can they possibly be allowed a nuclear weapon.

    • #14
  15. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Sir, great review. I could not have been as fair and even handed as you.

    Strategic narcissism goes straight to the heart of Deplorables issues with the deep state. Didn’t see where he addressed that.

    Strategic empathy is, I humbly submit, a canard.

    Let’s explore this through a one-over-the-world look at–pick an adversary–Iran.

    -Iron clad, brutal theocracy.

    -Corrupt, top to bottom, side to side.

    -Employs murder and rape as tools of state security.

    -Exports terrorism around the world.

    -Will sign any non-proliferation agreement, then circumvent it in order to gain nuclear weapons.

    -Will almost undoubtedly use nukes, once they get them.

    And we need strategic empathy for that nation-state/regime. Ooookay.

    I got a better strategic dimension we should develop, exercise and expand: Strategic Resolve.

    Yes. Except that McMaster is using “strategic empathy” as a term of art, limited to understanding/ taking the other’s position and claimed motivations seriously, not sympathizing. He says it is foolish to suggest that deterrence might work with a set of leaders and at least a significant population that deeply believes in the Shia emphasis on supernatural victory though their own blood. The linked text I placed in the OP points to official propaganda seriously asserting that we were defeated by killing the Iranian top terror master. His blood, being spilled, supernaturally created victory for the Iranian revolution. Take them seriously, rather than dismissing it as spin, and you see that under no condition can they possibly be allowed a nuclear weapon.

    Much better.  Thanks.

    • #15
  16. Jailer Member
    Jailer
    @Jailer

    First, thanks for the comprehensive review. I have started Battlegrounds, and will work my way through it over the coming weeks. I have an additional motivation, since I expect to be in the Hoover orbit quite a bit over the next year as I take up a fellowship at Stanford. I have also started listening to the Goodfellows podcasts.

    Like you, I was greatly influenced by Dereliction of Duty. I discovered it while in Staff College about 15 years ago, and took a special interest because of my background in things Vietnam (I speak the language moderately well, and have more recently spent time posted to our embassy there).

    McMaster appears to try to pursue seemingly divergent priorities–challenging certain conventional wisdom while parroting other. Your example of the climate change chapter (which I have not yet read) seems apropos to that point. I’m inclined to think this is the tax that must be paid to remain in the conversation internationally, since most of our closest allies (and others) take this as gospel. You cannot spend time in many major foreign capitals (which he has) without hearing all about it, repeatedly and incessantly. If you want to be internationally relevant (which he almost certainly does) you likely feel an imperative to at least pay lip service there.

    Thanks again for doing this review. I hope to complete my tour through the book soon and will perhaps have more to say then.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Jailer (View Comment):
    , since I expect to be in the Hoover orbit quite a bit over the next year as I take up a fellowship at Stanford.

    Just don’t be in the Hoover obit, which is the word I read before I went back and re-read it.   (It seems I read a lot of obits these days.) 

    • #17