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On Being A Superpower: And Not Knowing What To Do About It

Seymour J Deitchman

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ISBN 10: 0813367751 / ISBN 13: 9780813367750
Published by Basic Books, 1999
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: On Being A Superpower: And Not Knowing What ...

Publisher: Basic Books

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Good

Edition: 1.

About this title

Synopsis:

As the sole remaining superpower, shouldn't the United States be able to call the tune on establishing a secure world to our liking? While most international strategists conjure up history and theory of international relations from the past to examine such a question, Sy Deitchman, in On Being a Superpower, focuses on today's changing conditions and attitudes. He starts by addressing hypothetical situations that keep US international security experts awake at night. What would the United States do, he asks, if, in Saudi Arabia, an armed rebellion by Islamic fundamentalists were about to topple the House of Saud while demanding that the US get out of the Middle East? Would the United States go to war to try stop China's invasion of a democratic Taiwan that declares its independence? Could the US really win such a war against a determined country that has over a billion people and nuclear weapons? If a Central American drug cartel gained de facto control of the Panama canal and turned it into a smuggling lynchpin, what would the United States do?Deitchman examines these and other scenarios and then pictures how the US would likely respond, based on our society's current moral concerns, political rhetoric, and overall world view. After reviewing the challenges the world will present to us and examining the current state of our nation and its armed forces, Deitchman describes the strategy for preserving US security that appears to be emerging without explicit planning. He shows how trends in the armed forces parallel the trends in society, and how our argumentative political system is affecting our ability to build and use military power to support our strategy. Deitchman's synthesis of all these themes shows that the existing trends in the nation and the world are not favorable for our future security. Can they be changed? And if so, how? That's the conundrum readers of this book are invited to ponder.

Review:

Seymour Deitchman blends hardheaded realism with engaging conjecture to deliver an informative and entertaining analysis of U.S. national security in the 21st century. He takes the unconventional approach of describing potential "scenarios" of conflict--what he calls "a fanciful yet plausible look into the world's future to support some mind-stretching speculations about what might befall our nation in the coming century." And so he writes quasi-fictional accounts of China invading Taiwan, Muslim fundamentalists overthrowing the moderate rulers of Saudi Arabia, and Colombian drug cartels gaining control of the Panama Canal. (Because of this tack, On Being a Superpower will remind some readers of Caspar Weinberger's book The Next War.) Deitchman's point is not to argue how the United States should respond to these crises: "My book, by contrast, is descriptive: It concentrates less (but not negligibly) on what I think ought to be done and more (but not exclusively) on what I think is likely to be done by our nation in furtherance of its national security," he writes. A few of his ideas will seem far-fetched: he proposes that in the year 2100, for example, North America will contain three sovereign powers: the Confederation of "New Hispaniola" (i.e., Mexico and the southwestern United States), "New France" (Quebec), and something called "USCAN" (the leftover parts of the United States and Canada). Deitchman also provides a detailed examination of contemporary national security and military dilemmas. Even if parts of On Being a Superpower are unpersuasive, it's easy to get swept away by Deitchman's unconventional method. --John J. Miller

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