From the Publisher
“Revolution in modern warfare is upon us. George and Meredith Friedman have provided us an important insight into many of the critical elements of that revolution and their possible implications. There are no answers, but there is one certainty: It is in America's national interest to have the debate about where technology is taking us and to then resolutely put policies, doctrines, and budgets in place to protect our country. This book is an important element in that debate. I strongly recommend it.” Adm. Bill Owens, Ret. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“We will be hearing a great deal more about this book as time goes on. It is one of those rare watershed documents in a class with the works of Giulio Douhet, B.H. Liddell Hart, and Herman Kahn. It is a benchmark . . . Competitors and critics alike will find themselves obliged to deal with it, one way or another.” Maj. Gen. Edward B. Atkenson, Army magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Friedmans are geostrategic optimists. The next century, they argue, will be the American centurynot from any economic, diplomatic or moral achievements, but because of a revolution in warmaking. According to the Friedmans, who operate a business intelligence firm, technologyspecifically that of precise-guided munitions (PGMs)is creating a revolution as fundamental as that inaugurated by gunpowder. The authors establish their case by concentrating on the "senility" of major "traditional" weapons systems (tanks, aircraft carriers, manned aircraft) when confronted with weapons "that can, in some sense, think." The U.S. possesses the knowledge and the resource base to take advantage of a form of warfare that will eventually, they say, reduce costs not only in money, but also in the lives Americans are increasingly reluctant to sacrifice. The Friedmans advocate in particular the extension of weapons and control systems into outer space. Their book is more convincing as history than as prognostication, however. The authors make strong complementary cases for the technical vulnerability of high-cost, high-profile weapons and for the tendency of those weapons to exceed the physical and psychological capacities of their human operators. Their emphasis on technology takes too little account of the complex spectrum of nonmaterial factors that are increasingly recognized as critical to shaping "revolutions in human affairs." The concept of a paradigm shift in conducting wars based on PGMs is a useful tool, but one requiring careful examination and critical review that seems beyond the scope of the advocacy to be found here. Author tour. (Mar.)
The Friedmans, noted for their previous book, The Coming War with Japan (LJ 5/1/91), work at the GPA Strategic Forecasting Group, "a corporate intelligence service involved in military modeling." Although their book's title suggests futurology, the contents are more historic. In fact, the book is, as the Friedmans admit, "not really about war today" either. It offers some decent analysis of the evolution of battleships, carriers, tanks, and aircraft, but it comes nowhere near matching the astonishing vision of the late Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, former Chief of the Soviet General Staff. In fact, their work doesn't even cite him or some other key foreign strategists who have written at length about this subject. Perhaps the Friedmans should rerun their model. An optional purchase.-John J. Yurechko, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
From those wonderful folks who brought you The Coming War with Japan (1991), another arresting, thoughtful, and closely reasoned appreciation of how and by whom armed conflicts might be successfully conducted in the post-millennial era.
Persuasively dismissing the beguiling notion that global interdependence, economic or otherwise, has made war unthinkable, the Friedmans (who run the GPA Strategic Forecasting Group, a corporate intelligence service) assume that the days of shooting irons (artillery, machine guns, mortars, rifles, et al.), which ruled the world's battlefields for over five centuries, are numbered. As the final stages of Desert Storm made clear, they assert, precision ordnance (directed by lasers or other advanced means) is supplanting ballistic firearms. The advent of so-called smart bombs and missiles, the authors point out, has made a wealth of inordinately expensive weapons systems obsolete by making them unacceptably vulnerable to assault; cases in point range from manned fighter planes crammed with avionics through aircraft carriers and tanks. Nor, the authors maintain, do nuclear capabilities loom large in the strategic scheme of things, other than as a deterrent against other countries' nuclear arsenals. Accordingly, the Friedmans conclude, the key to military domination in the 21st century will be conventional ordnance precisely applied, and the willingness to use it. With unrivaled command of computer, guidance munitions, radar satellite, and sensing technologies, they argue, the US is in the strongest position to seize the high ground of space (for use not only as a reconnaissance site but also as a launching pad) and achieve a capacity to engage in remote-control warfare in which pilotless vehicles deliver explosives at hypersonic speeds and with deadly accuracy to enemy targets anywhere on earth.
Provocative, accessible perspectives on the long history of war and on a new world of belligerency whose convincingly documented emergence could give pause to prophets of Western decline.