Internal Security Services In Liberalizing States: Transitions, Turmoil, and (In)Security, by Joseph L. Derdzinski
Being a person who has some personal experience in dealing with security services in a “liberalizing” street there the facade and reality of democracy are rather starkly different , this was a book that appealed to me when I saw it shown on the list of books to review for the Air & Space Power Journal. Perhaps this personal experience may make me seem rather jaded, but even if my desire to travel right now seems a bit limited (I am hoping that I will have the means and the interest to travel in the future, but my experiences in Thailand seem to have affected me rather strongly). From the first trip I ever took abroad, as an eight year old to Trinidad & Tobago, which was under martial law when we visited because there had been a coup attempt by some Libyans that had taken place a few weeks before my visit, I have found the presence of internal security to be highly intriguing to me as a rather consistent egalitarian and freedom-minded Westerner.
So, I have not started reading the book, which arrived today (yay!), but from what I have seen so far (and this book is #2 on my current reading list, after the book on an American missionary who runs afoul of the Chinese government (noticing a trend in my reading? *sighs*) that arrived yesterday. Nonetheless, in looking through the book, I can see so far that this book takes a “realist” approach (the intro contains an approving quotation of Machiavelli, and that’s usually a good sign) and that the book has chosen to seek to illuminate common concerns about liberalizing nations by doing a cross-cultural comparison of Morocco and Indonesia, two countries I have never visited, making it impossible for me to provide my own stories or personal knowledge about the two places.
Nonetheless, I think that there might be quite a few similarities (or at least parallels) between Morocco and Thailand when it comes to the role of the monarch in a liberalizing nation as well as a concern about living up to a reputation of being a very pro-Western state. The author brings expertise that comes from being a soldier in the NATO effort in Bosnia, and that should help to provide some excellent real-life perspective (the book begins with a quotation from a Muslim Bosniak leader to the author about the difficulties of the rule of law when it comes to dealing with suspects). It would appear as if this book is a scholarly work (It is short, around 165 pages or so) but one that endeavors to remain readable. And that effort should be commended and will hopefully result in an excellent book. We shall see, though :).