The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force

Eliot A. Cohen. Basic, $36.50 (304p) ISBN 978-0-465-04472-6
Cohen (Conquered into Liberty), a Johns Hopkins professor of strategic studies and a leading neo-conservative theorist, makes the case for hard power in American foreign policy, warning that shrinking U.S. interest in guaranteeing global order has already led to increased international instability, nuclear threats, and terrorism. Cohen begins with a calculus and defense of the U.S.’s post-9/11 wars and their “partial successes.” The U.S. remains the world’s dominant military power, he asserts, but its antagonists, unlike during the Cold War, are dispersed around the world. Cohen points to China’s growth, ambition, and militarization, musing on the possible triggers and consequences of a U.S.-China clash that could go nuclear. He also points to Russia, Iran, North Korea, and even putative ally Pakistan as potential threats. Cohen sees no future accommodation beyond a tactical truce between radical Islamists and the West, but, surprisingly, he sidesteps the role Israel plays as both a source of conflict and an American ally in the Middle East. Eager for the U.S. to remain assertive worldwide, Cohen makes clearheaded assessments that many strategists who don’t share his views and policy advice will nonetheless find strongly thought out. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/24/2016
Release date: 01/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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