Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Monday, May 07, 2007

Reflections on Brave New War

When I slid this book from the shelf of my local bookseller the first impression it virtually screamed was "I am brief." Contrary to John Robb's extensive study of his Global Guerrilla theory online his published account entails a mere 188 pages. Such brevity induced uncertainty as I made my way to the checkout while thumbing to James Fallow's foreword. I worried that what I was buying might be the equivalent of a military guidebook for helicopter rotor maintenance.

Not even slightly. One thing BNW isn't is a long winded, jargon packed manifesto. Quite the contrary, whether one has sound command of Boyd, Lind, and Hammes or has simply bought this book based on it's brooding yet enticing cover it captures and explains in a most satisfying and easy fashion. If Robb's online initiative is a vast labyrinth of intrigue and frustrating complexity his book is a well mapped tour through his vision that is at once bleak and hopeful.

While I still remain unconvinced of the fragility of the cultural jingoism that encompasses the western or "first world" nation state and am unable to envision the devolution to what is, effectively, a modernists vision of pre-Westphalian earth I've come to appreciate his well founded assertions of the dark underside to globalization. The evolution of the currently recognized jihadist's vision of 4GW to Robb's transcending vision of global guerrilla's and the worrying open sourced warfare combined with the potential nightmare of the "brittle" and over centralized national security is enough to eclipse such prejudice. Whether you believe the nation state is in decline or not, Robb presents a very convincing vision of autonomous entities driven by anything from religious ideology, economic dissatisfaction or simple greed and their ability to exact devastating strikes on macro-economies for micro-economic costs.

John presents his theory (in some ways reality) in a concise, poignant and convincing fashion that will give even the most ardent skeptic (cough, cough, Dan tdaxp, cough) pause. Whether you buy into the whole package or, as the author invites, take a dish or two from the "buffet" John Robb presents yet another cogent and imperative plea to the US political and military establishment: Think outside the strategic confines of the cold war.

Good stuff.

Closing request: John Robb mentions an online debate with Thomas Barnett. If anyone has a link to that I'd love to see it.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that it's a short read. I've got a stack of big wordy books in which I'm trying to make inroads, so don't want to add another one to the collection.

Good review, by the way. Like you I'm not a great believer in the 'eclipse of the nation state' idea, which remains stubbornly fashionable. Nation states just have too much going for them to quietly exit stage left.

Jay@Soob said...

Thanks strat. I hope (and think) you'll enjoy the book.