Fire in the East: The Rise of Asian Military Power and the Second Nuclear Age

Paul Bracken, Author
Paul Bracken, Author HarperCollins Publishers $25 (186p) ISBN 978-0-06-019344-7
Reviewed on: 02/01/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-06-093155-1
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-06-201282-1
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""A multipolar balance of terror stretches over a six-thousand-mile arc, comprising some of the most unstable countries on earth."" Such ominous phrases abound in this alarming vision of the post-Cold War geopolitical landscape. Yale political scientist Bracken (Command and Control of Nuclear Forces) takes the 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan as his cue to make an argument that the nuclear genie is out of the bottle. Increased cash reserves brought about by the global economy enable governments to buy nuclear technology; therefore, in the 21st century, Asian nations will be able to achieve a measure of military parity with the West not seen for half a millennium. Parts of the book get rather technical, as Bracken addresses military strategy and takes interesting digressions into Asian military history. However, whether he's writing about the oil-rich but politically unstable Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union or more traditional Asian powers such as China and India, Bracken always returns to his theme that the days when the West was the dominant military power in Asia (a period that stretches from the beginning of European colonialism to today's American military hegemony) are numbered. While very clear and persuasive in making his case that the availability of nuclear weapons will change the Asian geopolitical landscape and the relationship between the West and Asia, Bracken is less clear about what the West should do to manage this inevitable shift. He does clearly outline the options (arms control, balance-of-power diplomacy among them), and his book stands as a sobering reminder that economic globalization is as likely to give rise to geopolitical tension as it is to peace and prosperity. (June)
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