Review: The New Face of War–How War Will Be Fought in the 21st Century

3 Star, War & Face of Battle

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

3.0 out of 5 stars Quickie Book, Misleading Title, On Balance Disappointing,

November 30, 2003
Bruce D. Berkowitz
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to add links.

I know and admire the author of this book very much, and consider his and Allan Goodman’s book on “Best Truth” to be among the top ten books on the topic of intelligence.

This book, unfortunately–and I am dismayed because I was really hoping for some new thoughts and stimulation that the author is certainly capable of–is what I would call a “quickie” book. It is also very misleadingly titled. In brief, this is the book Tom Clancy would write if a) he worked for RAND and b) did not care about making money.

It is not completely superficial–what is there is valid, documented, and for someone that does not read in this field, satisfactory. But to take just one example where my own work is dominant, that of open source intelligence: the author, who knows better, covers the topic with a trashy vignette of his visit to Margot Williams at the Washington Post and the result is, to me at least, quite annoying in its glibness and ignorance of all else that is going on in the open source world.

This book is also not about the future of war, unless one is a prisoner of (or funded sycophant to) the morons in the Pentagon that think that “information superiority” is still about expensive secret intelligence satellites, expensive unilateral secret communications links, and using very very expensive B-2 bombers to go after guys in caves. There are four future wars that will be fought over 100 years on six fronts: big wars with conventional armies (e.g. between India and Pakistan), small wars and criminal man-hunts around the world; nature wars including the wars against disease, water scarcity, mass migration, and trade in women and children as well as piracy and ethnic crime; and electronic wars, where states, corporations, and individuals will all vie for some form of advantage in the electronic environment that we have created and that is, because of Microsoft, a national catastrophe waiting to happen.

On the latter, the author gets 4 stars. On the former, zero. I hold the author blameless for the lousy title. This is about not how war is going to be fought in the 21st Century–it is about what the beltway bureaucracy is trying to sell to the Pentagon, at taxpayer expense, and it covers just 10% of the future needs and capabilities.

Recommended, with reviews:
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America’s Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It
The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go It Alone
Race to the Swift: Thoughts on Twenty-First Century Warfare (International Series on Materials Science and Technology)
Wilson’s Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century
Why We Fight
The Fog of War – Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

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