Finally, a decline-of-the-state book that not only doesn’t depend on Martin van Creveld’s work, but doesn’t even mention it. And it’s a pretty good one.
FROM THE NEW MIDDLE AGES TO A NEW DARK AGE: THE DECLINE OF THE STATE AND U.S. STRATEGY, by Phil Williams. Dr. Williams is Visiting Research Professor at the Army’s Strategic Studies Institute in Carlisle, PA, for whom he wrote this monograph.
It’s a short book, so read it. Here are a few tidbits to get you started:
Underlying the change from traditional geopolitics to security as a governance issue is the long-term decline of the state. Despite state resilience, this trend could prove unstoppable. If so, it will be essential to replace dominant state-centric perceptions and assessments (what the author terms “stateocentrism”) with alternative judgments acknowledging the reduced role and diminished effectiveness of states. (ix)
There is now a nexus of dangerous new actors, methods, and capabilities that imperil the United States, its interests, and its alliances in strategically significant ways.” These threats require a response which is carefully formulated, with an appropriate balance between ends, ways, and means, and a realistic prospect of reaching an end state that is less dangerous and unfavorable than it would be in the event of inaction. (47)
Dr. Williams considers three generic strategies, roughly world domination, isolation, and selective intervention. His discussion is nuanced, although his treatment of “world domination” is a masterpiece of the understated annihilation technique.
If there is a fault to this work, it is the assumption, always lurking in the background, that there is a way to manage the world, and if we got our act in order, we could do it.
Taking this a step further and developing the transagency organizational structures discussed above might enhance the prospects that these selective interventions would create the desired results. Even selective interventions require the holistic exercise of power and a more coherent organizational approach than has been evident in Iraq. (48)
This is, however, as optimistic as he gets.
Again, read it, make up your own minds, and recognize yet once again that the American people are truly getting our money’s worth out of SSI. By the way, he doesn’t mention Lind or 4GW either.
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